Dear High School Families,
I was so glad to be back in the high school this week. As you may have heard, yesterday was our third annual day dedicated to student led conversations about diversity in the high school. The student organizers, with the support Chap and Ileana, decided that we should no longer be calling it “Diversity Day” because, as they said, “we feel that the word “diversity” does not do justice to the kind of work we want to do as a community to address systems of oppression such as racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, and religious-based bigotry. We believe that the first step in fighting systems of oppression is acknowledging that “It happens here!” Acknowledging how we influence and perpetuate these systems in our everyday lives at school and at home is the foundation for doing this work together as a community. During our time here at LREI, we tend to hide behind the facade of the school’s progressive mission. However, being progressive is not enough. We need to break this “bubble” that we are a part of and examine how these systems affect us all. We want to acknowledge these systems and create solutions that make LREI a place of true social justice and liberation.” The students also asked to have teachers be a part of this day, as both participants and leaders, and it was wonderful to have this day all together.
The day began with student organizers Stephanie and Lutfah, both Seniors, framing the day along with Randy Clancy a trainer from Border Crossers
and co-founder of the Carle Institute
. We were fortunate to have her as a guest facilitator and to lead some important discussions. For the rest of the morning, students and faculty offered a series of workshops for the rest of the high school community (this dynamic and impressive list of offerings is listed below). During lunch, students came together by grade to hear more from Randy, before breaking into affinity groups to watch and discuss a film. We closed the day all together in the PAC. The day wrapped up with the student organizers wishing that the younger grades would carry the torch of this work and that, “we hope everyone learned something new, something different.”
I spoke with Lutfah and Stephanie and asked them to reflect on this day that they worked so hard to plan and organize. They thought it went really well, and that, “although not everyone agrees, it’s important to have these conversations as a school, and it is a real learning opportunity. Especially with the political climate, it’s important to have this day, because it provides people with an opportunity to talk about topics that relate to the election and presidency.”
I hope you will ask your students about their experience, and the workshops they participated in. What did they learned about themselves, their school, and our society? What issues around Social Justice, Systems of Oppression, and Equity resonated with them? What will they do to continue learning and growing, and how can we (both at home and in school) support that?
I am truly grateful for all the students and faculty who led workshops, for Margaret Paul who handled the logistics, Ileana and Chap for their time, energy, and expertise, and Lutfah and Stephanie for their vision and organization. Ileana shared that this day, “moved everyone into a space of truth-telling that was real and honest while also being loving and compassionate towards each other.” I can't think of a better outcome!