#ithappenshere in the High School of LREI

The first step in fighting systems of oppression is acknowledging that “It Happens Here!” 

Our collective acts of justice as a community allow us to address racism, sexism, classism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, religious-based bigotry and many other forms of marginalization and discrimination. Acknowledging how we influence and perpetuate these systems in our everyday lives, both at school and at home, is the foundation for doing this work together. 
In order to burst the bubble that we are a part of, as members of a progressive institution that consistently promotes equity and equality, we cannot rest when it comes to examining how these systems affect us all in and out of the classroom. Here at LREI, we tend to rely on the school’s progressive mission without taking action to affirm our values. 
We, the student planning committee of #ItHappensHere, believe that:
  • it is important to invest in these conversations and lean into discomfort rather than opting out
  • it is important to get at the root of harmful words and actions
  • it is important to work collectively rather than in silos or for self-aggrandizement (i.e., compete over who is more “woke”). Our collective action and respect for each other will lead to greater results.
We want to acknowledge systems of oppression and understand our role in making LREI a place of effective social justice and liberation. For these reasons, we invite everyone to share their voices during sessions whether you are a leader or a participant. We wish to cultivate an environment where people feel comfortable calling each other in for the collective work to happen.
We interrupted this regularly programmed school day for #ithappenshere. To explain what this day is about, I asked a guest writer – Gisell R., our Student Government’s Vice President of Programming, to talk a little about #ithappenshere, and how she and other students were involved in the planning.

From Gisell - 
“#ithappenshere is a day where we talk about topics of systems of power and oppression and how those systems impact our identities and lives inside and outside of the LREI community. We do #ithappenshere to emphasize that even within LREI, we perpetuate the same systems of oppression that exist outside of our school. It's important to recognize that as a community we must have conversations about the ways these systems of power are prevalent within our classrooms in order to target them and create a safer LREI community. 

This year is exciting because we decided to create a committee of students dedicated to social justice and community outreach within the school. This panel includes the leaders of all affinity groups within the High School. By having this panel, we get a wide variety of perspectives and create an environment where we work together and challenge each other to help plan these complex conversations. As a panel, we met every week to plan the schedule for the day, the themes we wanted to discuss, and the ways in which we wanted to engage our student body in a productive andeffective way. We used our experience as students and leaders in our community to encourage our peers to lead workshops and tackle difficult conversations. We are also facilitating many of the discussions and help make sure the day runs smoothly for our student body.”
We began our day all together in the PAC, where members of the planning group framed the day. Students signed up to participate in a workshop or workshops around topics that they were interested in engaging with. Below is a list of those workshops. Hearing the students talk about what they discussed was empowering – from wanting to hear more from a more conservative perspective, to theVpower of a story exchange, digging into toxic masculinity, to seeing the intersection of race and gender in the world of STEM, exposing the dangers of "faux activism", to debunking the myth of the model minority, and so much more. I was proud of the way everyone participated and humbled by the courage required of workshop leaders, both student and faculty, to bring these topics to life. I am grateful for the work of Chap, LREI Director of Equity and Justice and Margaret Paul, High School Dean of Student Life, for their involvement today and for supporting the students in developing this program.

The 4 C’s are alive and well! Workshop leaders got creativeabout the topics they wanted to explore and the ways in which they could engage the community. Students thought critically about challenging issues in society, were good citizens through their active participation, and were courageous in leaning into those discussions. We ended the day thinking about what actions we would each take to make the world a more just and equitable place – the embodiment of our mission.

For these reasons, #ItHappensHere hopes to be a transformative and powerful experience for everyone.

Micah Dov Gottlieb,
High School Principal