2023 Diversity Symposium Recap
A Week of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Learning and Engagement
Greenhills School is committed to doing more than just talking about diversity, equity, and inclusion. In fact, we prefer to dive deep and engage. That’s one of the reasons our school dedicates an entire week each year to the Diversity Symposium, when students spend part of each day participating in a variety of creative, thoughtful, and developmentally appropriate events. These workshops, speakers, and performances are designed to build awareness of our unique and shared experiences, and to celebrate our community of compassionate global citizens.
Students began the week with a keynote address on Monday from author Jen St. Jude about the importance of storytelling to understanding identity and cultivating empathy. During their talk, Mx. St. Jude shared their coming out story, discussed mental health, and asked students to reflect on their own understanding of identity.
“It’s gratifying that our school community is so supportive of diversity programming,” said Nadine Hall, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. “We asked for student input during the planning process and we were really happy about the variety of speakers and activities we’ve been able to offer. This week has been a highlight of our ongoing programming throughout the school year.”
On Tuesday, every student advisory group participated in a workshop called “Fighting Antisemitism” created by Greenhills’ Jewish Student Community affinity group and the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Students watched a short documentary about Holocaust survivor Irene Butter, then learned how to recognize and speak out against antisemitism.
Midweek, students heard from a second keynote speaker, Professor John Palmer, who talked about social justice education and Asian American representation in the media. He shared his own journey of understanding his identity and how it impacted his role as an educator and activist. Dr. Palmer left students with the inspiring message: “Become a producer of knowledge so that you can become a creator of change.”
“We’ve received some wonderful, heartfelt feedback from students and faculty about the week and some great suggestions for next year as well,” said Kelly Williams, Associate Director of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion. “The symposium is an important reminder of how much the school values connection and belonging for every student both in our classrooms and beyond.”
On Thursday, students split up by division to explore different tracks. Middle school students participated in a disability justice workshop, while upper school students attended a showcase from several Greenhills affinity groups.
The week ended on Friday with two incredible performances. Students in 6th and 7th grade attended a session by Native American storytellers Marcia and Reg Pettibone, while 8th through 12th grade students were treated to a performance from hip hop artist Jamall Bufford and his co-performer Isaac Mack.
These learning opportunities are only possible because we lean in and participate together as a community. Students, teachers, administrators, affinity groups, advisors, and the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion worked together to create a meaningful experience for everyone involved, and it doesn’t stop here. Students will continue to discuss what they learned at school, and we hope it will start conversations at home, too. After all, it’s not what you learn, but how you apply that knowledge that will ultimately better the world.