Students connect with their human side at Ideas Festival

Jordan Crook, a senior at Todd Beamer High School, leads a discussion on discrimination during the school
Jordan Crook, a senior at Todd Beamer High School, leads a discussion on discrimination during the school's first Ideas Festival.
— image credit: Margo Horner/The Mirror


Students at Todd Beamer High School were a little more thoughtful last week.

They were a little less likely to stereotype their peers based on race. They were a little more compassionate toward military veterans. And they were a little more concerned about the citizens of war-stricken Darfur.

And it was all a result of Todd Beamer senior Jordan Crook.

Crook, a graduate of the 2007 Bezos Scholars Program at the Aspen Institute, organized the first Titan Idea Festival at Todd Beamer last week. Her efforts were inspired by the Ideas Festival she attended in Aspen, Colo., last year.

About 30 students participated in each of three events. The participants volunteered to attend the festival by signing up during their lunchtimes.

On Friday, students watched a video about discrimination, then participated in a thought-provoking discussion led by Crook. Students agreed that although racism isn’t as rampant as it was when the video was filmed, discrimination is still an issue.

“Not necessarily on skin, but there’s a million other ways we can judge them,” one student said.

Another student pointed out that she has been a target of racist beliefs.

“People will assume that if I get upset I’m going to retaliate with violence because I’m black,” the student said. “It’s still racism.”

These kinds of discussions are exactly what Crook hoped would happen as a result of the ideas festival at Todd Beamer.

“I thought Aspen was going to be the climax, but this is better,” she said.

Vince Blauser, principal of the Business and Industry academy at Todd Beamer, noted that students who attended Crook’s seminar on genocide in Darfur were compelled to raise money to help.

“It was amazing to see how quickly they came into action,” Blauser said. “I was reminded that there’s more to education than the standards we teach. We’re developing humans.”

Contact Margo Horner: or (253) 925-5565.

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