The 6th annual Upper School Diversity Leadership Conference was a grand success last week! Planned and led by MICDS students for students, the conference brought together peers from various schools and backgrounds to talk about the issues they face around identity, diversity and inclusion in schools. A group of 100 students and faculty joined us from Bishop DuBourg, Lutheran North, Whitfield, Vianney and CBC.
Eighteen MICDS Upper Schoolers from our iDentity Club worked since September to plan the conference as student facilitators. This theme for this year’s conference was “It’s Our Time: Creating a World for All.” Centering on this theme, the day consisted of an opening session, interactive workshops, small group discussions, lunch, large group discussions, a keynote speaker and open mic reporting. Director of Faculty Equity & Inclusion and Director of Student Activities Ms. Erica Moore shared, “This conference is an effort to help create opportunities for dialogue and understanding, to empower students to be confident in who they are, to stand up for others and to create a dialogue on how we can work with each other to create a more just and equitable community.”
A few of the many topics covered included:
- Equity vs. Equality
- Social Media
- Criminal Justice
Mr. Christopher McPherson, the owner of Possibility of Positivity LLC, was the 2019 keynote speaker. McPherson is a personal development expert who specializes in human potential. He challenges listeners of his talks to overcome obstacles through their own thoughts. McPherson spoke to the theme: “Give Yourself a Hand.” He shared that each of our fingers represents something we need to be a leader in our community and in our school when thinking about creating a world for all.
- The thumb is to be optimistic.
- The pointer is to be intentional about your work.
- The middle finger is to remind you to be free; open your mind to the possibilities.
- The ring finger is for commitment; commit fully to the work and task at hand.
- The pinky is for strength; put all these together to be strong and make a mighty impact.
“Give yourself a hand as you go on your leadership journey,” McPherson said.
Students also participated in important activities. The Crossing the Line activity was facilitated by Mr. Tabari Coleman, Education Director for the Anti-Defamation League and Trainer for the National Conference for Community and Justice. Coordinator of Student Engagement Gregory Foster oversaw the Privilege Walk activity.
iDentity Co-Head Shreya Mehta ’20 reflected on the conference, saying, “As a member of iDentity for four years now, and a co-head for two of those, I’ve learned to appreciate each word that is said by the members of the conference and club as it is something of value and an opportunity to broaden my own perspective. My top takeaway from the conference was Mr. Coleman’s remarks on issues of labeling others as something negative, which then causes a lack of conversation between conflicting parties, yet this conversation is vital for progress.”
What a wonderful way to live into our Mission of inspiring the next generation to think critically and resolve to stand for what is good and right. Head of School Jay Rainey echoed this notion in his opening comments: “It is your time, so use this time today to talk, think and share how you as an individual and most importantly as a team of students at your school can help to indeed create a world for all.”