A Focus on Culture at Diversity Leadership Conference

What a pleasure to host the in-person return of the Upper School Diversity Leadership Conference! Twenty-nine students in grades nine through 12 from schools such as St. Louis University High School, Lindbergh High School, Webster Groves High School, and Principia came together to address topics around identity, diversity, and inclusion in schools.

Each year, the Diversity Leadership Conference is planned and facilitated by students for students and is overseen by Erica Moore, MICDS Director of Faculty Equity and Inclusion and Director of Student Activities. The conference offered students from various backgrounds the opportunity to connect on this year’s theme: My Culture + Your Culture = Our Future. Students addressed cultural understanding and awareness, cultural appropriation, and cultural appreciation. The student leaders were inspired by their own deep dives into diversity and inclusion work and felt the desire to help educate and motivate their peers on social justice and equity issues. Many thanks to the MICDS iDentity Club co-heads Lauren Douglas ’22 and Amani Hendricks ’22, and committee members Olivia Ferguson ’22, Zoe Carter-Konate ’22, Arya Ramakrishnan ’22, Ima Ekpelu ’22, Kenni McDile ’24, Raygan McDile ’22, Ishika Kanjerla ’24, and Zoie Tolson ’24, for creating a robust schedule of activities.

The conference consisted of local guest speakers and facilitators, including Tabari Coleman of the Anti-Defamation League, interactive workshops, small group discussions, lunch, get-to-know-you time, school group discussions and planning, open mic reporting, and closing reflections.

Student co-head Lauren Douglas ’22 said, “The conference this year was so informative and exciting! I learned about the variety of experiences students have at their schools. I enjoyed the privilege walk because it can be revealing in an unexpected way where a student may fall on the scale of economic privilege. This opened a pathway for discussion in our debrief. I am so glad it was a space where students felt safe to share how they felt and their opinions on topics!”

Congratulations to MICDS students for living into the School’s mission, creating opportunities for dialogue and understanding, and empowering students to be confident in who they are, stand up for others, and not be afraid of initiating conversations about social justice.