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Students experience diversity leadership amongst Fairchester Schools

The National Association of Independent Schools hosts the annual Student Diversity Leadership Conference in various places in the United States; however, only 6 students per school are permitted to attend. In an effort to enable more students to access intentional exploration and discussion of difference and inclusion the Masters School and Rye Country Day students worked together to develop a 1 day program for Fairchester (Fairfield County and Westchester County independent schools) to attend. The entire program was designed, organized, and led by students. 

King believes that an informed understanding of varied world views is essential to the academic, social, and emotional growth of each member of our community. We were excited that four King students and two staffulty members took the opportunity to participate in this year's Saturday Summit on Social Justice, joining attendees from 10 other area independent schools. Enthusiastic engagement was evident at every stage of the day's rich events. The morning kicked off with rekindled connections among students and staffulty alike. The standing-room only welcome session readied participants to move on to their choices among 18 student-led breakout workshops (see list below), followed by confidential affinity groups. 

“I absolutely loved attending the Saturday Summit On Social Justice,” explains Kim Villard ‘20.  “It is always really refreshing to be surrounded by students with many of the same passions, interests, and hopes that you have. Through attending conferences like this one, I am constantly building my network! I find myself running into many of the same people often, and I always love being able to reconnect.”

The midday keynote event was an all-attendee interactive game called "Factuality." Led by creator Natalie Gillard, the session involved conversation and learning about intentionally structured social inequalities that disadvantage people across a wide range of intersectional identities -- all conducted in the context of a Monopoly-like board game. Heavy-duty messages got delivered in a medium that resulted in surprisingly light-hearted but meaningful connections around every table.

“One of my favorite parts of the day was playing the board game “Factuality,” an incredibly unique tool used to understand diversity in a hands on way, and I am hoping that together we can bring it to King for the larger community to experience,” says Lily Claire Alpert ‘22. “It was an eye-opening and empowering experience. Thank you to everyone who made it possible for me to participate. I left inspired and look forward to attending more events like these in the future!” 

Afternoon sessions concluded with students and adults combined within their chosen affinity groups, then the debriefing general session was capped with pizza and a dance party for the young people, which our breathlessly radiant King students clearly enjoyed.  

Student workshops included:

  • Code switching

  • Activism, why it matters here and now 

  • American identity, what does it mean to be American in today’s society

  • Intersectional feminism

  • The media, stereotypes and role models

  • Religion and identity

  • The Importance of Allyship: Being an upstander versus a bystander

  • Ability and disability: what’s normal?

  • Wealth, class, and independent schools

  • Institutional and Individual racism

  • Gender and sexual identity 

  • Race vs. ethnicity vs. nationality: What’s what and how do we come together?

  • Understanding privilege

  • Identifying and confronting sexism

  • Politics in Independent Schools 

 

Adult workshops included:

  • Diversity initiatives in our schools 

  • Incorporating diversity into your curriculum

  • Strategies for allies in the classroom

  • Exploring intersectionality within the classroom

  • The power of courageous conversations

  • Discussing cultural and gender identifiers in the classroom