Misconceptions are commonplace for students and adults alike; however, students at Dallas Center-Grimes are trying to squelch some of their own thoughts after visiting Hoover High School.
The idea to visit the school came from sociology instructor Stefanie Wager who wanted to explore issues of social inequality and group behavior with her students.
“After having taught in Des Moines for eight years, I thought this would be a great opportunity for our students to go and see how their perceptions changed,” she said. “I think it was a real eye-opening experience for them.”
Around 70 sophomore, junior and senior students took part in the visit where they were able to attend class with a Hoover student and discuss their perceptions about each other.
“They were all a little scared and intimidated to go at first,” Wager said. “They thought that Hoover kids were more tough, and (in turn) they thought Hoover students would perceive them as being hicks or being a little backwards.”
Although both schools had their initial perceptions, they quickly changed after visiting the school.
“Almost every kid wrote through their blog or by talking to me that they didn’t feel scared there or think that they were all that different than the kids at Hoover,” Wager said. “They saw that there was more diversity but were impressed by how everyone got along.”
Amanda Rodriguez, a junior at DC-G, grew up in the Des Moines area and said she didn’t have the same preconceived notions as her classmates did.
“Before we went to Hoover, I wasn’t culture shocked like everyone else was because I grew up around it,” she said.
Wager added those who grow up around different cultures and diversity don’t know any different.
“Maybe the kids at DC-G have their perception about other schools like Hoover because they aren’t around a lot of diversity every day,” she said. “Out in the real world, you are going to work with people who are different than you. I experienced both worlds so we are talking as a building how to do more things to expose kids to differences.
“Everyone has misconceptions, but it’s how we can try to change those in the future.”