Twenty-three Beaver students of color and white allies and six faculty members attended the 2011 High School Students of Color Conference held at the Lawrence Academy and Groton School on April 16 & 17, 2011.
Sponsored yearly by the Association of Independent Schools of New England (AISNE), the conference “was created in recognition of the unique needs, experiences, and challenges of students of color in independent schools.”
Students participated in discussions and interactive workshops on a number of diversity and multicultural related topics as well as racial identity affinity groups. This year’s conference also featured keynote presentations by Derrick Gay and Dr. Michael Fowlin.
Derrick Gay, an educational consultant with 13 years of independent school experience has worked with a number of schools on issues of inclusion and social justice. His presentation at the conference entitled, “Hair Me Out!” used the symbol of hair and the value judgements people often make based on physical appearance to challenge students’ assumptions about gender, race, religion, age, social class, and sexuality based social norms.
Dr. Michael Fowlin, who holds a doctorate degree in clinical psychology from Rutgers University presented a one-person show that had him slip in and out of nine different characters both male and female. Dr. Fowlin combined his psychological training and professional acting talents to share the stories of an array of individuals and how their lives were affected by issues of race discrimination, gender inequity, homophobia, and the emotional pain felt by special education children. His message challenged students to work to respect our differences, and accept and celebrate our shared experiences.
The conference closed on Sunday with an inspiring performance by poet trio “Brave New Voices” and an “open mic” session for participating students.
Photo: (L-R) Alexia Simpson ’13, Ivanna Mejia ’12, and Raven Rankin ’12 at the AISNE Students of Color Conference.