On December 18, a group of some 30 Upper School students met with representatives from Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights to be trained in human rights advocacy, forming the first RFK cohort at King. The cohort is already using their new knowledge to work on social justice initiatives in the Upper School. Some of these students have already honed their leadership skills when they attended the National Association of Independent School’s Student Leadership Conference.
Lindsey Rossler, History Faculty and Director of Talent Development, was inspired to form an RFK cohort at King by her past experiences working with the organization. She sees the cohort as a way of uniting students interested in different issues that fall under the umbrella of human rights. “Whether we call it social justice, civil rights, or human rights, it's all the same work,” she says. “Students are already doing it: in their clubs, in their affinity groups, in their classes. This should be a platform for students who are already doing this work to see one another, find commonalities, and help each other move forward in the work.”
Jonathan Coulombe, Upper School Dean of Students, hopes that the RFK cohort will become “a leadership position that students aspire to hold.” Students in the cohort will have the opportunity to create community programming and events and will have a large degree of autonomy in terms of which issues they choose to focus on. “We want this to be a student-centered school, with student-centered program,” says Mr. Coulombe. This is a very real way for students to take ownership of their community, school, and school experience.”
The RFK cohort is already hard at work creating programming for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Hannah Cosgrove ‘21, a member of the cohort and one of the students involved in the MLK day initiative says that working in this capacity has been an “amazing opportunity to work with people with similar goals.” Reflecting on their first planning session, she says, “I can say by just looking at my classmate's hard work and dedication that this cohort has the power and mindset to truly enact change within King.”