After several six-hour training sessions, more than 60 students and faculty members will facilitate discussion Friday among the entire Upper School to continue fostering a culture of understanding and respect on campus.
“At Hamden Hall we take great pride in our inclusive culture. The conversations that our students and faculty will have within the parameters of this initiative will not only strengthen an already strong and diverse Upper School but it will help to promote more cultural awareness in our global community,” maintained Head of School Bob Izzo.
Utilizing resources provided by the organization Everyday Democracy, students and faculty have received training to be facilitators for the first of three conversations that will take place this school year. All Upper School students and faculty members will be cordoned off into 30 different groups, each of whom will meet in 30 separate locations during Assembly time and a portion of the day’s long block.
According to the organization’s website, “Everyday Democracy works to strengthen democracy by making authentic engagement and public participation a permanent part of the way we work as a country.”
“This is near and dear to me as one who teaches courses that investigate racial issues. I hope all students will see we are in this together and while we all have our prejudices, it's important that we understand them,” said History Dept. Chair Dr. Lisa Hill, who implemented a similar series of workshops at Flint Hill Prep School in Virginia.
Dr. Hill and administrators John Greenawalt and Kim Porto spearheaded the initiative, the first of which will be 90 minutes long and allow students and faculty to get to know one another and share their stories. The second discussion will focus on “differences you can see” and the third “differences you can’t see,” all of which are planned for later in the school year according to Mr. Greenawalt.
“The dialogues will provide a safe space for students to discuss their sense of the world and how they fit into it. They will also discover some prejudices they may have and were unaware. This is a great chance for them to talk about what they feel and, more importantly, explore why,” explained Dr. Hill.
Mrs. Porto noted that each group will discuss diversity issues that exist on campus and in the world.
“The goal is to continue to make our campus and community inclusive with a positive atmosphere of understanding and celebrating diversity,” she said.