Faith, local leaders encourage Bunnell Elementary students arriving to school after controversial school assembly

Nearly two dozen faith leaders and Flagler County leaders held a prayer vigil this morning near Bunnell Elementary School.

It was their response to the assembly last week that singled out Black fourth and fifth-grade students regarding standardized test scores.

The morning meet-up was a result of the assembly at the school last week that targeted only Black fourth and fifth-grade students.

Jearlyn Dennie, the local pastor who organized the vigil, said test scores aren’t everything.

Related: Elementary school assembly singling out low-scoring Black students in Bunnell sparks investigation

“They are beautiful, they are capable, they are, smart, they are created in the image of God, and there is nothing wrong with that. Test scores do not define who they are.”

The group held signs around the school’s campus to encourage the kids. Some of the signs read: You are Brave. You Are Smart and You Are Beautiful.

Church pastor James Bellino said what happened at the school was unacceptable.

“We have to come together as a community and understand that everybody has value in God’s eyes,” Bellino said. “We cannot be separated. Whether that is by race, Creed, color. It does not matter.”

A week ago, all Black fourth- and fifth-grade students at Bunnell Elementary, regardless of their test scores, were pulled out of class to attend an assembly focused on test scores.

During the assembly, a presentation stated that “AA underperformed on standardized assessments in the last 3 years.”

The presentation offered this solution — students commit to improving their scores and then pit them against each other in individual matchups. The winner of those contests would be given fast-food meals.

Flagler County School officials apologized during a news conference Thursday and regret the way this was all done.

The principal and one of the teachers are now under paid administrative leave, while the district investigates the situation.

The district provided WKMG with a PowerPoint presentation used in the assembly, which includes a slide titled, “The Problem.” That slide lists the following statements:

“AA have underperform (sic) on standardized assessment for the last past 3 years.”
“We only have 32% of our students who are at a Level 3 or higher for ELA/Math.”
“We are supposed to have at least 41%.”

Click here to view the full PowerPoint presentation used in the assembly at the bottom of WKMG’s story.

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