Camilla Bianchi, ‘19
On December 14, the Diversity Initiative and the Student Union held their second roundtable of the year. During both events, students, faculty, and parents worked together to find a way to create a stronger and more inclusive community at BHSEC. The discussions started with a reflection on the previous roundtable, in which participants reflected on the important elements of building a community. People reflected on the importance of discussion, empathy, self-reflection, and love for one another in order to build a community. Many new individuals attended last week’s roundtable, bringing with them new concepts that were not previously discussed. They mentioned extremely important ideas such as the importance of trust, valuing people’s experiences, involvement, and sensitivity. One of the main themes displayed at the meeting was the importance of discussion among the individuals forming a community, which comes with respect and love for one another.
After discussing, students, faculty, and parents were split up into five different groups. Each group was asked to write a vision statement about its hopes for the BHSEC community using the different concepts that were just discussed. The groups continued the conversation on the importance of empathy, trust, open-mindedness, and accountability while adding new perspectives to each idea. The negative connotations of the word “accountability” were discussed. One parent brought up its negative implications in the DOE and how it is often associated with testing and grading, which lead to it being substituted with “responsibility.” This specific point was central throughout the discussions, as accountability is one of the most important elements of community. Another important concept that was discussed is what one should demand from oneself and what one can expect from others. Learning comes from within oneself, but one should be educated by others. With this idea comes the importance of the relationship between the individuals in a community. Everyone should respect and value everyone else while being aware of their own limitations and mistakes.
All the groups were able to write a complete vision statement, which they then shared with everyone else. Although all of the vision statements had common trends, two gained the most approval from the larger group. The first one was the statement from group 3: “We will use the classrooms, our friend groups, the hallways, and all spaces in the school as a space to be accountable for our biases; we will do this by being self-reflective, listening to understand – not to refute, and building a sense of trust.” The second one was the statement from group 4: “At BHSEC, we create a community where every individual, with sensitivity and trust, has a willingness to educate and to learn based on one another’s lived experiences; based on this
foundation, we foster a culture of action and participation.” Students and parents gravitated more towards these specific statements because they believed that they were able to better summarize the values previously discussed. The final vision statement will include concepts from all of the formulated ones. Some of the common trends between them were the ideas of discussion, respect, inclusion, engagement, trust, and individual responsibility. In addition, all of the statements said “we will,” which is indicative of the determination and colleciveness invested by parents, faculty, and students in these visions.
This roundtable took a significant step forward to building a stronger and more inclusive community here at BHSEC. It is important to remember that simply discussing these steps will not build a community. Everyone should remember to embody these principles and visions every day in every interaction that they have with their peers and teachers. Change can only come if everyone works together towards building a better community for every single individual at BHSEC.