Manitou Springs High School Invites the Community to Join Their “Culture of Kindness”


Mady Caywood

GSTA and SOS leader Dr. Moen and her daughter parade down Manitou Ave during Homecoming, dressed up in support of the GSTA club.

Sophia McKeown, Yearbook Editor-In-Chief

My name is Sophie McKeown, I am a junior at Manitou Springs High School (MSHS), as well as a Student Council representative and a Student Journalist. It has been brought to the attention of the students at MSHS that the surrounding community is willing, if not eager, to support the school members as they prepare for the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) protest on Oct. 14 outside of the high school. As many already are aware, WBC is known for verbally attacking specific groups of people, many of which MSHS high schoolers are a part of. These include, but are not limited to, the LGBTQ+ community, children of military families and many religious groups. As a representative of the MSHS student body, I would like to say that we are entirely overwhelmed with pride and joy after witnessing the outreach of our community asking to support us. The most effective way to create a plan in response to the protest, as our principal Mr. Moeder-Chandler put it, is to “do one or two things very well, instead of many things ineffectively.” I would like to describe the events that the MSHS staff and students decided would portray our intentions most effectively and would include the participation of community members. All MSHS events and actions fall under the idea of a “Culture of Kindness,” which works to further encourage the kindness and acceptance our school already embodies. Our goal is simple: the student leaders hope to work with our loving community to show the utmost support and love to the MSHS students without rewarding the WBC with the reaction they seek.

On October 11th at 7 pm, there will be a home MSHS football game at Richardson Field. Leading up to the game, from 4-6 p.m., a collaboration of MSHS clubs, including Sources of Strength, GSTA (Gay Straight Trans Alliance), Key Club and Student Council, will be hosting a Culture of Kindness Tailgate on the Mustang Plaza behind the high school. We invite the Manitou/Colorado Springs community, and anyone else who wants to show support, to attend. The tailgate will include music, games, food for sale and many grateful MSHS students who would love to see you there. The intention of the tailgate party is to provide a space for community members and students to come together and share ideas of love, kindness and acceptance for one another. MSHS clubs will also be collecting donations for three charities —Inside Out Youth Services, Mission Critical Veterans Relief Fund, Urban Peak of Colorado Springs— which support the groups that the WBC specifically protest. 

On Sunday, Oct. 13, the day before the WBC protest, MSHS Student Council invites the community to decorate the sidewalks behind the high school with positive, colorful chalk messages for students to read as they walk into school the next day. The hope is that the WBC protestors will witness no reaction, but instead as students turn the corner around the high school that morning, they will be immediately immersed into an environment of overwhelming love and safety. Although the events behind the high school the morning of Oct. 14 are intended for only students, they would be extremely touched if willing community members chose to contribute their kindness and support to that space. Along with drawing on the sidewalks, we invite the community members to help the students decorate the school hallways with streamers and signs to continue the positive environment throughout the entire school day. The sidewalk and hallway decorating event will go on from 1-5 p.m. that Sunday and even a few minutes of help would make an incredible impact, so please stop by if you are available. MSHS Student Council will provide all of the necessary materials.

The willingness of the community to not only support students but to do so by asking for their input and working towards a common goal has created an incredible notion of acceptance and value inside our school. You have embraced the students in your love and kindness, now let us all collectively elevate ourselves into an unbreakable sense of belonging. Mustangs are stronger together.