On February 22nd, Hazel Raymond received news that the event she had been planning since January to be held on February 23rd was canceled due to an overbooking of the event space.
With only 10 minutes before the end of the school day, she raced from building to building to secure a new space for the next day’s event. After speaking with three different teachers, she was able to secure the Innovation Center on campus for two days later.
“I learned that if you have a vision, you should never give up on it,” Raymond said. “You have to fight for what you believe in; you have to do everything you can. I have always been someone that knew anything was possible.”
Despite weeks of setbacks and the short notice cancellation, the event was finally realized on February 25th.
The event featured Hazel’s presentation about the importance of Black History Month, Dr. Lynn Daniel as guest speaker, and a recitation of the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” to close.
Dr. Daniel shared her story about growing up in Missouri during the time of the Brown v. Board of Education case, and she presented on the importance of learning Black history.
“She grew up seeing people fight for the right to an education—to even be able to teach as a person of color,” Raymond said. “Once that case was won, she wanted to take that opportunity—like this was something that people had fought for, and it’s something not to take for granted. So she went and got her teaching degree, and she did mainly because she wanted other students—the youth—to know that there was importance in literature; there’s importance in knowing how to read and write; there’s importance in knowing your history.”
In Dr. Daniel’s story of how she became an educator, she also recounted the first time she set foot in a library. This memory stood out to Raymond.
“She fell in love with books as soon as she learned how to read .… And something she said really stood out to me: her first moments walking through the front doors of a very big library,” Raymond said. “And that’s impactful because I know I’ve taken for granted the fact that I still go into restaurants of people of all colors. The fact that that wasn’t normal back then is something to appreciate now.”
The event proved to be a success with more than 30 people in attendance. Even those who had initially doubted the event’s potential ended up acknowledging its success, Raymond said.
Reflecting upon the event, Raymond believes that it will be an annual celebration and acknowledgement of Black History Month at West Point High School.
“I say annual because what I did was plant a seed, and I know 10 years from now…20 years from now, they’ll only grow after that every single year. And I’m just glad that I started it.”
Following the Black History Month event, Raymond started a Black Student Union at her school and she was presented with another opportunity to make a difference in her community through an invitation from JAG to attend Governor Doug Ducey’s press conference for the announcement of AZ OnTrack. AZ OnTrack is a state government initiative that will fund this year’s summer learning camps for students most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Raymond joined our JAG President Graciela Garcia Candia and other community leaders at the event.
Hazel Raymond was featured in our Insider News blog at the beginning of March for her Career Technical Education (CTE) journey at West-MEC. Read HERE.