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Friday, October 9, 2020

The Rippling Change in Fort Mitchell

Back Row, L-R, James Davis, John Willis; Front Rown, L - R, Elijah McKenney, Noah Fisher, and Graciela Grunkemeyer

Editor's Note: 

On June 6th, between 500 – 600 people gathered at the Fort Mitchell City building to set course on a peaceful march for racial justice in response to the killing of George Floyd. The organizers of the march were Beechwood graduates James Davis, John Willis, Elijah McKenney, and Noah Fisher. The march came together in five days as the young men connected with Fort Mitchell city officials and local businesses, and spread the word about the march through social media.

“I went to every business along Dixie Highway and told them what we were doing.” says Willis. “I want to give a shout out to  the Saddle Club, the Saddle Club was awesome.” 

Overall, the support, says Willis, was “overwhelming.”

“It was nice having the mayor’s support – he marched with us,” says Willis. 

Throughout the peaceful protest, there was no opposition. “What we did as a community was really, really hopeful,” says Willis. “But we cannot be complacent. If we don’t continue to act out against these injustices, they will continue.”

Beechwood graduate, Graciela Grunkemeyer, beautifully writes about the love and support that she felt the community showed to her fellow alumni, and gives a thoughtful narrative, overall,  to how her community and school have come through during trying times.


“ I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”  -- Mother Teresa

Beechwood graduate Graciela Grunkemeyer

By Graciela Grunkemeyer

Frustrated. Powerless. Disappointed. 

These are some of the words I’ve heard people use regarding the COVID-19 pandemic that has put billions of people into a global quarantine. High school seniors around the world are devastated that they can’t experience many long-awaited rites of passage, like dancing with best friends at the last prom, participating in the final season of spring sports, walking down the football field with cap and gown at graduation, and enjoying their last summer before college with friends. 

At the beginning of this pandemic, I found myself angry at the coronavirus for taking away a countless number of memorable moments. However, after accepting this situation as something I cannot change, I have learned to approach this unprecedented circumstance with a positive mindset; although my decision to spread positivity cannot alter the mindset of a nation, it can create ripples and encourage others to likewise cast their stones, unite in spirit, and create change.  

As a future neuroscience major and current AP Psychology student, I have greatly worried about the effects of quarantine on the brain. I found myself fearing that the practice of social distancing could lead people to isolation and depression, or worse, lead to confusion, mass panic and violence. 

Everything from the countless job losses to the toilet paper apocalypse seemed to increase my anxiety concerning this coronavirus pandemic. While the world seems to be falling apart, I have found myself so thankful to be a part of the Beechwood community. 

Amidst these trying times, Beechwood has held true to its core values. The school not only quickly adapted to non-traditional instruction, but it has strived to keep its students safe while also challenging them to excellence. Although I was physically separated from my classmates, teachers, and typical learning environment, I am so grateful that the Beechwood faculty graciously provided us the luxury of swift email replies, video recorded lessons, and unlimited access to virtual meetings. My teachers continually gave me the resources to complete my education, and they were readily available for emotional support during this difficult time. 

My fellow senior classmates and I have reminisced on the many good times we have had together throughout high school, and are grateful for the memories we have made thus far. We were also so blessed to have a car parade for all of the graduating seniors, as well as individual graduation ceremonies maintaining social distancing. 

Walking down the football field in my cap and gown, I was reminded of the many memories I made right there, from my first cross country practice, to being covered in red paint lining the field at the big CovCath football game. It was so special to watch the compilation of my graduating friends speaking about the impact that the school has had on them. All the faculty and staff at Beechwood put so much effort and energy into making our senior graduation something special, and it truly was just that.  

Fort Mitchell has likewise  shown its love for those in our community by showing support in the recent Black Lives Matter protest. On June 4th, John Willis, Elijah McKenney, James Davis, and Noah Fisher organized a 3 mile walk beginning at the City Building and looping back to Beechwood High School. The boys were graduates from Beechwood, and they decided on organizing this protest in their own hometown in support of progress and change within our criminal justice system. 

Class of 2019 Beechwood Graduate John Willis states that “The reason we wanted the protest to be in Fort Mitchell was because people here are easily able to ignore the ongoing issues of racism. By bringing it front and center, the intention was to raise awareness and start conversations. The turnout made us (organizers) extremely hopeful; through social media, we were able to spread the word effectively and communication with city officials helped the process go smoothly. Overall, my number one concern was the safety of everyone there. We made sure that the message of peace was heavily emphasized to set the tone. This sentiment held true and the protest went as planned. Everyone who came was on the same page as us and we had little opposition, so there were no issues and the community felt the message.”

Overall, our Beechwood community of Learners and Leaders has adapted extraordinarily well to this pandemic. While striving to keep each other safe, people have continued to serve selflessly and encourage one another. Though the Class of 2020’s senior season has been unprecedented, Beechwood has done everything possible to make its graduating students feel special and loved. 

Through the tragedies of racism and police brutality, people have come together in support of change and acceptance for all people. I am so proud and grateful to be connected to an entire community of students, teachers, parents, and families who keep the world a bright place during dark times. The Fort Mitchell community has cast many stones of positivity, and we have contributed to the ripples of change all around the world. 

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