Kent State Students Teach Message of Diversity


Elizabeth Amstutz, Editor In Chief

On Friday, Feb. 22, Boardman High School was visited by five public relations students from Kent State University. These students are a part of the Bateman Blue Team, selected by a panel of faculty members in the Journalism Mass Communication. The team is competing in the Bateman Case Study Competition, a national contest created by the Public Relations Student Society of America. Their aim is to start a conversation about diversity in the communications professions. The team that arrived from Kent has been conducting their research on diversity since December 2018, gathering the current number of 28 pages of secondary research. In addition to their online research, three diverse professors at the university were interviewed to help the team understand how to teach the topic as well as how to implement change. A study by the Public Relations Society of America Foundation found that by the year 2045, it is estimated that 49.7 percent of the population will be white compared to the 24.6 percent Hispanic, 13.1 percent African-American. 7.9 percent Asian, and 3.8 percent for multiracial populations. The Bateman Blue Team strived to give examples like these to students through an inclusive workshop. The two activities the students participated in included a ribbon wall in which each student picked from various colors of ribbon, each depicting a certain trait. The students would then take their colors and tie them to the wire wall, representing the individuality of each different person. For the second activity, students were given photographs and short biographies of successful people in the public relations field and were asked to match a face to the description. This exercise showed students that you can not judge a book by its cover. “Overall, we felt as though we got a very good response from the Boardman students. We understand it gets kind of boring to sit around in a desk for a whole period, so that’s why we tried to get the students up and moving by creating our diversity ribbon wall and interactive profile matching activity.” said Brynn Pennell, a member of the Bateman Blue Team and also cousin of BHS English teacher Miss Steeb. “We had some great questions asked to us and some students who talked to us after our presentations thanking us for coming and discussing the topic of diversity.” Although we should always keep the diversity topic going, the team decided there was no better time to get students talking than around the times of Black History Month as well as Women’s History Month.

Their targeted audience was our Sophomore and Junior English classes as well as the journalism classes that Boardman High has to offer. Along with these groups, the Bateman Blue Team has started conversations in Human Resource departments in local businesses and organizations in Northeastern Ohio. Human Resource professionals have a large impact on the hiring of new employees, and after their workshop, the Bateman Blue team hopes that employers will take diversity into consideration to ensure a more inclusive workplace. After hearing the statistics now, the team hopes that a message of diversity has been instilled in our students minds. “We hope that BHS students understand what diversity and inclusion is, and how it can impact each other! We are all so different in many ways, and instead of putting others down or making others uncomfortable about our differences, we should be lifting each other up. We also wanted the students to understand that we need diverse voices in the communication professions. There are a lot of stories to be told, and we need those unique perspectives on them.”