Sophomore joins Washington’s Community Relations Board

Sophomore Aaliyah Wirthwein has become the first high schooler, and youngest member, of Washington’s Community Relations Board. 

“I get to help Washington become a safer and more progressive place,” Wirthwein said.

The board was created in the summer of 2020 after Washington’s Mayor, Sandy Lucy, took notice of multiple events of racism in the area, protests all over the county (including downtown Washington) and a demand for education of citizens of the town.

“I want to do events in this community and give people the opportunity to educate themselves,” Wirthwein said. 

Her hopes reflect that of the groups, especially to make a long-lasting change to help all.

“I want this community to be safer for future generations,“ Wirthwein said. 

Wirthwein notes that this is not the only time that she has worked to promote equality around the community. 

“In the past, I spoke at the school board meeting against bigotry at WHS,” Wirthwein said, “and I won the Equal Justice Initiative essay contest.”

These events and accomplishments required her to have a large amount of information about the topic in order to speak out to help create a better future. Her bravery and accomplishments allowed her the opportunity to join the Community Relations Board. 

“[On the board, there is] Mayor Lucy, a couple of City Board members, a member of the police, Pastor Aimee Appell and a family friend named Sarah,” Wirthwein said. 

Wirthwein will be able to meet with the group for her first time in June where she will be able to share her voice like never before. The board itself is also looking to listen to a variety of voices in order to best make the community safer for all.

“I think it would be difficult [for others] to join the board,” Wirthwein said, “but they are looking for suggestions from high schoolers.”

It is important for everybody to remember they have a voice, including high school students. As Wirthwein works to help make a positive impact as a community member on the Community Relations Board, she leaves behind an important message.

“Not being actively racist is not enough; you have to be anti-racist.”