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
“Look. How lovely it is, this thing we have done – together.”
— Toni Morrison
On March 10th, AC students and faculty participated in an African American Read-In. Though this was AC’s first year participating in the event, it was originally established by the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English in 1990. The NCTE describes the event as “groundbreaking effort to encourage communities to read together, centering on African American books and authors.” It has reached more than 6 million participants.
At our event, we invited readers and audience members to attend in person or via Zoom. Each reader chose a short text to share. Authors ranged from Sojourner Truth to Lucille Clifton, Ralph Ellison to Jalil Muntaqim. Whatever text was chosen, a highlight was hearing the readers explain why they chose a particular text. Some of these explanations were personal. Readers described first encountering a text before they really understood it and only later coming to fully appreciate it, or they spoke of finding inspiration and solace in what they chose to read. Others spoke of how their texts connected with historical or current events, whether the large-scale rethinking of colonialism that began in the middle of the 20th century or the current fight against systemic racism. A couple of the readers had even personally met the authors they read.
Like all literature — poetry, fiction, memoir, etc. — these texts may be “important” on paper, but they only truly live when we read them and make them meaningful to our own lives. Texts by Black authors historically have been marginalized. When we read them together in a shared event like this, we show how central they are, both in an American context and globally. Thank you to all who came and shared in this event.