Arrow-right Camera
News >  Features >  Voices

January Justice

Principal Cleve Penberthy tries to convince Nathan Long, 17, to come to class Thursday morning as the school session begins at Contract-Based Education.
 (The Spokesman-Review)
Principal Cleve Penberthy tries to convince Nathan Long, 17, to come to class Thursday morning as the school session begins at Contract-Based Education. (The Spokesman-Review)

A session called January Justice has more than 100 students debating issues of respect, citizenship, racism, sexism and cultural influences such as hip hop – against the backdrop of Martin Luther King’s dream.

Students at the Contract-Based Education alternative high school in Spokane Valley could take the two-week course designed to encourage dialogue and thought about their roles as American citizens. As part of launching the session Tuesday, students watched and then debated the independent film, “Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats & Rhymes,” that questions racial, violent and sexual images associated with much of rap music today.

“This video is very powerful and is meant to provoke a conversation,” said Kitara McClure, Spokane Community College multicultural director who was on hand to talk to the high school students. The film takes a critical look at black rappers who have music lyrics and videos denigrating women and idealizing violence. When held up against the MLK dream to improve human rights, much of the current hip hop culture is disturbing, McClure added.

“Martin Luther King’s dream was human rights, not civil rights, to combat all the reasons to hate. All he had was one microphone and a message of love.”

CBE is based out of the West Valley School District but draws students from all over the Spokane region. Principal Cleve Penberthy said his hope is that the two-week course will prompt students to talk about civic issues and think more about citizenship.

Also as part of the session’s activities, CBE students could participate in the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Unity March in downtown Spokane. Other subjects during the two-week course include “Women, Violence and the Media,” “Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes,” “The American Dream: Real or Myth?” and “Justice For All.”

“We’re talking about citizenship and civic engagement,” Penberthy said. “What does it mean to be a citizen in our society?” The school receives some Gates Grant funding, through a foundation that promotes the goal to prepare every student for college, careers and citizenship, added Penberthy.

He told the students that the school’s alternative school format allows students to tackle what are often controversial topics.

“This is the first of two weeks of fairly intense conversation about poverty, class, race, gender, citizenship – words that matter,” Penberthy said before the video presentation.

“Citizenship – what does it mean to be an American, to stand up? Inside each of you is something special to make the difference you were meant to make.”

CV, U-Hi programs to perform ‘Requiem’

A special grouping of choirs and orchestras from Central Valley and University high schools will combine talent to present Mozart’s “Requiem” in early February.

The orchestra and a cappella choir of CVHS and the orchestra and concert choir of U-Hi plan to offer two performances of Mozart’s final composition, left uncompleted at his death in 1791.

The musicians will first perform on Feb. 4 at the U-Hi Theatre, 12420 E. 32nd Ave. A second performance is scheduled on Feb. 6, at the CVHS Theatre, 821 S. Sullivan Road. Both concerts will begin at 7 p.m., with tickets for each performance available at the door for $3. For more information, call 228-5306.

CV seniors plan kids carnival fundraiser

Members of Central Valley High School’s Class of 2008 will host a “Kids Helping Kids Community Carnival” on Feb. 23 from 4 to 7 p.m. The carnival will be held in the school’s commons at 821 S. Sullivan Road.

Tickets for children ages 3 to 11 are $6 when purchased in advance by Feb. 15, or $8 at the door. Family members accompanying their children are admitted free. Twenty-five percent of the proceeds from this fundraiser will go to Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital and Shriners Hospital for Children in Spokane.

The carnival will feature games, crafts, food, jugglers and magicians. With each paid admission, children receive a punch card allowing them to participate in each of the activities and crafts one time. Additional punch cards are available at half price. Guests can move on the dance floor to the music of the award-winning Central Valley Jazz Band and local recording artist Ryan Larsen. Raffles and other prizes will be awarded. CVHS students will help staff the New Orleans-themed event celebrating the carnival season.

Prepaid tickets, which must be purchased by Feb. 15, are to be picked up at the door on the day of the event. Order forms are available at any elementary school in Central Valley School District or may be downloaded at

For more information or to order tickets, contact Krista Larsen at 228-5153 or klarsen Mail completed forms and checks (made payable to CVHS) to Central Valley High School, Attn: Krista Larsen, 821 S. Sullivan Road, Spokane Valley, WA 99037, or drop them off at the high school’s front office.