Students in all three divisions of Allendale Columbia were recently introduced to the school’s new Equity Statement, which was adopted by the Board of Trustees in August. “Current AC students were among the first at the school to voice the need to focus more intentionally on DEI,” said Lindsey Brown, Director of Equity & Community Engagement. “It is amazing to see students connect these equity values to their experiences at home and at school.”
Parents, faculty, staff, alumni, community partners, and students came together to form the inaugural AC Equity Committee in 2020. The committee collaborated to identify equity priorities and develop the Equity Statement. The tenets of the statement were designed to become intrinsic to AC’s mission, aiming to deepen and broaden a community sense of belonging. The AC Equity Statement state that the Allendale Columbia School Community:
- Affirms and celebrates its members as global citizens who seek to build compassionate connections rooted in social justice.
- We promote a strong ethic of social responsibility in our students, parents, faculty, staff, and alumni.
- We strive to build a diverse community that promotes equity and justice for all.
- We foster an environment that reflects the diverse experiences and perspectives present in the larger world.
- We embrace the National Association of Independent Schools’ principles of good practice for equity and justice as a framework for inclusion.
- We commit to continuous, intentional evaluation of our practices to cultivate a culture of belonging, renewed and reimagined by the collective community.
“We are extremely proud of the work that has been accomplished,” said Head of School Shannon Baudo. “This is a long-term process. As a school community, we are committed to staying the course and continuing to nurture an inclusive environment where everyone is safe, welcome, and celebrated.” The Equity Statement was also revised to make it easier to understand for AC students of all levels. The Student Equity Statement, designed for students in the Lower, Middle, and Upper School, is:
- We are global citizens
- We make compassionate connections
- We are socially responsible
- We believe in equity and justice for all
- We embrace diverse experiences and multiple perspectives
- We are a culture of belonging
In advisory and morning meeting, students studied the Equity Statement and were challenged to examine what it means to embody these values.The Equity Statement was also revised for our Little School, Nursery, and Pre-K students. In a group discussion led by Pre-K instructor Lindsay Graves, students explored the concept of fairness and what it looks like in school. They then listened to Mrs. Graves read Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin, a story where cows advocated for justice in their community. This prompted the Pre-K students to examine their own responsibility to treat each other fairly by using their words and speaking up when seeing something unfair.
“This discussion was so natural in its flow,” said Mrs. Graves. “The students had wonderfully thoughtful contributions.”
The AC Pre-Primary Equity Statement is as follows:
- We care about ourselves
- We care about each other
- We are different and we are the same
- We believe in justice
- We belong
To better understand the Pre-Primary Equity statement, students read the statement aloud and matched picture cues to each prompt. Students practiced saying the statement together and hung a poster of the statement up in the classroom. Mrs. Graves said of the activity, “We are so proud of the children for sharing their ideas and thinking deeper about ways to take care of ourselves and our peers.”
Our Upper School Production and Design class worked this semester to establish monthly Heritage and Cultural Spotlights inspired by Heritage Dinner. As a group, we wanted to do more to educate our community about different cultures. Each month, the team will share educational components around a featured heritage or culture. The team is comprised of Julianna T., Charlie S., Ayla S., Hafsah Z., and Nolan R. who filmed and edited the video of our 2nd graders below.
The second grade class created this land acknowledgment in honor of Native American Heritage Month. This is an important piece of their project-based learning unit which celebrates community. Annie King, believes that,
“Being a good steward of the land is an integral component for our students to engage in. Students research and learn about communities from the past. In doing so, they became super passionate about what activities and traditions communities celebrated. They wondered about which aspects of these communities they would like to bring to AC and their classroom community. The students were really drawn to respect and love of the earth and their ability to be peacemakers.”
Gianna I. told me she really enjoyed reading the book, Hiawatha and the Peacemaker. From this book, she loved the parts about being peaceful. She believes that you should never be mean and always be peaceful. When Gianna is peaceful it looks like being kind and loving and helping people.
Production and Design students collaborated with these young allies to record, edit, and share this spotlight feature.
“Allyship is a process, and everyone had more to learn. Allyship involves a lot of listening.” – Taylor Converse
The three sisters are corn, beans, and squash; crops that form a natural ecosystem as they grow. The corn provides a stalk for the beans to climb. The beans convert nitrogen from the air, and convert it into forms that can be used as nutrients. The squash’s large leaves shade the ground which helps retain soil moisture and prevent weeds.
The Haudenosaunee were the first to call these crops the “three sisters.” The Haudenosaunee also have a special way of planting the three sisters. In this method, all three types of seeds are planted together in the same mound, which assists with drainage because this region receives lots of rainfall in the summer.
Selected videos highlighting local Native American history from our friends at Ganondagan were carefully curated by the students in the group. This is the second year we’ve worked with Ganondagan. Last year at Heritage Dinner, Mansa B.T. of our Black Student Union presented this Land Acknowledgment to open the event.
Posted in: Authentic Learning, Diversity Equity and Inclusion, Eleventh Grade, Entrepreneurship, Global Engagement, Humanities, Lower School, Ninth Grade, Second Grade, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School
Students at Allendale Columbia celebrated the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival on Friday, September 24th. The event was part of AC’s commitment to emphasize diversity, equity, and inclusion in our community. The celebration engaged all students from the Little School to the Upper School in an array of culturally authentic activities and entertainment.
The Festival commemorates the brightest full moon of the year. Mid-Autumn Festival is considered one of the most important celebrations in Chinese culture and is sometimes called the Moon Festival or Mooncake Festival.
“When the bright moon shines over the sea, from far away, you share this moment with me.”
Little School assistant teacher Mengqian Ou performed live music on the pipa, a pear-shaped Chinese musical instrument similar to a lute. Students made greeting cards, designed hand fans to raffle off, and participated in a Chinese calligraphy writing workshop. Mooncakes, a traditional pastry treat, were served during the festival. Storytelling selections included “The Shadow in the Moon” by Christina Matula, and “Thanking the Moon” by Grace Lin.
For many AC students, this was the first time they celebrated Mid-Autumn Festival. Students expressed their revived interest in exploring different cultures and were thrilled to partake in this school-wide event.
One of AC’s most beloved traditions is Heritage Dinner, an event typically hosted on campus potluck-style, to celebrate and share the unique cultural backgrounds of our AC families. With this year’s global pandemic and the health and safety of our community at the forefront of our minds, we knew changes would need to be made in order to safely host the event this year. Pulling this off virtually would be a challenge, yes; but it would not be impossible.
Embracing AC’s core values to the fullest — “the importance of connections”, “mastering strategies for learning”, “minds that are curious and creative”, and “developing a resilient spirit that dares to take risks” — we decided to use this real world challenge as a learning opportunity for our students.
Enter AC Production and Design students Ella Prokupets, Mansa Brown-Tonge, Carly Freeman, Jocelyn Wynn, independent study student Chloe Fowler, and global diploma student Brynn Peters. Together, with the guidance of faculty advisor Amy Oliveri, these six students began to analyze the keystone components of the event and the logistics necessary to host it virtually.
Among the goals and objectives identified by the group were:
- The desire to make the event as inclusive as possible
- The desire to provide various levels of engagement to promote the widest accessibility
- The ability to virtually bring people together to enjoy culturally diverse food
- The ability to incorporate local and international partners
To implement these goals, the students set to work connecting with our partners in Senegal, Dubai, Mexico, China, and locally, they reached out to Headwater Food Hub to coordinate the sale of Meal Boxes to our community. These boxes, they hoped, would provide a sense of community with everyone prepping and enjoying the same meal. Driven by the desire to support and shop local during this challenging time, the students also arranged to have extra Meal Boxes donated to our School #17 Summer LEAP families. Additionally, the students curated a list of ethnically diverse restaurants to encourage participants to support local small businesses and try new cuisines from around the world. During this time, they also began building their own website, creating social media content and messaging to help promote the event, and gathering family-favorite recipes and music from our AC community.
When the day of the event finally came, we had just shy of 100 people in attendance! Through a combination of pre recorded presentations and live discussions, we were successfully (and safely!) able to come together, yet again, to break bread and broaden our understanding of the world and those in our community. This event is always such a wonderful reminder of the richness and diversity of our AC community.
We are proud to be Rochester’s most diverse school, and we are committed to continuing to build a community that fosters diversity, equity, and inclusion for all people.
00:00 – Welcome
02:01 – Intro & Land Acknowledgement
05:20 – History of Heritage Dinner
08:06 – Student Speaker #1 (Lizzie)
13:14 – Student Speaker #2 (Ziqi)
15:58 – Student Speaker #3 (Victoria)
20:03 – Faculty Speaker (Mr. Camara)
36:25 – Breakout Rooms
50:17 – Closing Remarks
50:33 – Solidarity Circle Intro
51:41 – Solidarity Circle Video
53:31 – Closing Remarks
*This year’s Heritage Dinner program was organized and produced by students in the Production & Design Class. Thank you to Mansa Brown-Tonge for hosting the evening’s event and Ms. Oliveri for her oversight and guidance.
Posted in: Centers for Impact, Diversity Equity and Inclusion, Entrepreneurship, Events & Workshops, Global Engagement, Highlights, Lower School, Middle School, Upper School
Students also celebrated International Education Week November 18th-22nd. The week was dedicated to celebrating the benefits of international education and exchanges worldwide. It is a joint initiative of the US Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education to prepare Americans for a globally interconnected world and encourage the development of global leaders. AC celebrated the week by conducting a Kahoot! cultural trivia contest in the middle school and upper school. There was also a middle and upper school international photo contest. Our Lower School students participated by bringing in photos of their international or domestic travels. Photos are displayed on the Global Engagement bulletin boards in each division.
From October 17th to October 26th, 10 students from The Harkness Institute, located in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, were hosted by students at the International House and eight AC families. Their time in Rochester consisted of fun, tourist activities, like the Maid of the Mist in Niagara Falls, a tour of the University of Rochester, and a bike tour of downtown Rochester. The students also spent time in Lower, Middle, and Upper School Spanish classes, giving AC language students the opportunity to converse in Spanish with native speakers. Harkness students enjoyed being able to act as “assistant teachers” in the Lower School Spanish classes and spending time with their host families learning about traditional American activities, meals, and family traditions. (more…)
Posted in: Authentic Learning, Global Engagement, Highlights, Partnerships, The Birches, US Birches
For the third summer in a row, local Allendale Columbia students participated in the Summer Global Leadership Program, alongside Iraqi students from the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program (IYLEP). IYLEP is a four-week exchange program for promising Iraqi students to visit different U.S. cities and learn about leadership, peace building, and civic engagement. It is sponsored and funded by the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and implemented by World Learning. Rochester is the only host city that has American students participate in the IYLEP program for the full two weeks, allowing both American and Iraqi participants to build a strong bond and further break down stereotypes and misconceptions.
AC Program Coordinator Tony Tepedino, shares his reflections on this year’s program:
“For two weeks this summer, I was the Program Coordinator for a summer program called the Iraqi Young Leadership Exchange Program (IYLEP). This is the second year I have been in this role, and I have been very fortunate to be able to be a part of this program. IYLEP is a program that brings a group of Iraqi students to the U.S. for four weeks. The first week is in Vermont, then the next two are in one of four host cities, and then the students travel to Washington D.C. for the last week.
Iraqi teens choose to apply to be part of this program. From what the students have shared with me, it’s a highly selective process, and a spot in the program is very sought after. I wanted to share a few things that have really impressed me about these students (and families) I have worked with over the last two years.
First, as a parent, it’s difficult for me to wrap my brain around how hard it must be to send your child to another country, let alone a country that has been at the center of so much controversy, tension and, simply put, war. I really don’t know how I would react if my teenage child approached me to ask to travel to Iraq. The courage they need to have to travel from their home in Iraq, to the U.S., for four weeks is no small thing. The students arrive here with an open-mind and an accepting nature. They stay with host families for two weeks, and with that comes getting used to a new home, new people, new foods, new routines, and a language barrier (a few students shared that their primary English teacher was YouTube!). Having New York as a destination brings excitement, until they realize that Rochester, New York and New York City are two very different places and that the famous NYC from movies and television is unreachable for a quick day trip.
As our busy two weeks began, I especially enjoyed observing how quickly the U.S. and Iraqi students bonded and came together as a group. This is something we work on and teach at Allendale Columbia, but the cool part is how this happens genuinely and organically. There is a real sense of connection, love, and caring for each other that occurs during our two weeks together.
During our time together, we covered a lot of ground, through the city and beyond, to immerse ourselves in a variety of different cultural and skill building experiences:
- City of Rochester Pedal Tour
- The M.K. Gandhi Institute
- The Maplewood YMCA
- Teen Empowerment
- NCBI Workshops with Steve and Navi
- Tour of the Susan B. Anthony House
- Ganondagan State Historic Site
I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with, and to get to know, the students who have been a part of this program. I applaud their bravery and their willingness to travel so many miles to learn, grow, and share their culture and perspective.
I can only speak for myself, but I know that I am forever changed by this experience, and I hope that it has left a similar mark on each of the individuals who were able to be a part of this unique program.”
Tony TepedinoSince starting at Allendale Columbia in 1994, Tony has taken on many different roles. He has coached a variety of sports, including Varsity Girls' Basketball and Varsity Golf. He taught physical education for seven years, kindergarten for seven years, and served as the Director of Curricular Technology for five years. Tony is currently serving as a faculty member in the Center for Entrepreneurship where he teaches electives for both middle and upper school students. He is also the Faculty Professional Learning Coordinator and C0-creator of TEDxAllendaleColumbiaSchool. Recently, Tony was Co-chair of the NYSAIS Accreditation Steering Committee and is a member of the Upper School Student Success Team responsible for Student Life. Tony was also the Program Coordinator for the Iraqi Youth Leadership Exchange Program (IYLEP). He holds a master’s degree in Education from Roberts Wesleyan College. Tony is the proud father of two children, Gabi and Trip. He enjoys hiking, reading, travel, cooking, and learning about new things.
If you could do any job in the world besides what you do now, what would it be?
I would co-host the T.V. show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives with Guy Fieri. Who wouldn't enjoy touring the country discovering the best food places and sharing that with the world?!
- Apply for next year’s program! (students ages 15-17)
- Become a host family
- Learn more about the AC Center for Global Engagement
Allendale Columbia School’s Center for Global Engagement, in partnership with Rochester Global Connections, offers the Summer Global Leadership Program designed for young people in Rochester interested in learning about and engaging in global issues. Students participate in a 2-week, all-day program where they work, eat, and play with highly-selected youth who are part of the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program (IYLEP). Together the students receive training and engage in hands-on projects that explore leadership skills, civic education, diversity and inclusion, human rights, and peace building. Through cross-cultural collaboration, this program provides all participants with a life-changing experience to help make an impact both locally and globally.
Posted in: Authentic Learning, Centers for Impact, Global Engagement, Partnerships, The Birches, Upper School, US Birches