On Wednesday, November 20, Harbor Day School had an assembly hosted by the Inclusivity and Diversity Committee (IDC). Each quarter the committee, comprised of 25 members, meets with a goal of enacting positive change toward inclusivity and diversity in the Harbor Day community. Their mission is, “To promote a culture of understanding where we value the unique qualities of our community constituents. Instilling a sense of ownership as we strive to increase awareness and influence actions, we take a stand against prejudice, and we celebrate inclusivity. Within the Harbor Day curriculum, we aim to recognize, appreciate, and share each person’s experiences, thereby enhancing the lens through which we all view the world”.
The assembly began with the faculty sharing the mission statement with students as they sat with their Harbor Day Families. Several faculty members shared several facts about themselves, some that were very relatable to most of the students, and some that were personal experiences that expressed their individuality. They based this activity off of a faculty and staff workshop with inclusivity and diversity consultant Monique Marshall earlier this fall. Students also appeared on stage presenting their definitions of inclusivity and diversity.
The IDC committee tasked the HDS Families to blend with a nearby family, form a circle, and begin the sharing activity. They encouraged students to share whatever came to mind, whether it was as simple as their favorite sport or something more personal such as experiencing a death in the family. Once a "family" member stepped forward to share an experience, any other student in the group who has a similar experience is welcome to step forward. Students encouraged each other by snapping their fingers in support. Every group I witnessed enthusiastically snapped their fingers after each share. There were times when only one student stepped forward and they were met with encouragement from their peers. As the game progressed, students felt more comfortable sharing, and most of the students came forward to express themselves and feel the positive recognition of the others.
After the exercise, teachers asked the students to discuss what they had learned from the experience. Students discovered that they had more in common with the others than they originally thought and that the things they thought made them different were met with understanding and support by the others. This activity was a very positive experience for all students, and it was encouraging to witness students of all ages finding their voice, respectfully acknowledging their peers, and eagerly participating.