AC’s Virtual Heritage Dinner 2020

Posted on December 17th, 2020 by acsrochester

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.

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Posted in: Centers for Impact, Diversity Equity and Inclusion, Entrepreneurship, Events & Workshops, Global Engagement, Highlights, Lower School, Middle School, Upper School

AC Students Get Real World Experience Producing Best Buddies Virtual Gala with WROC

Posted on December 7th, 2020 by acsrochester

This fall, AC’s Production and Design students were given a choice of partnerships they could participate in, and seven of the students selected a collaboration with the Western New York chapter of Best Buddies, a global nonprofit organization that strives to create one-on-one friendships between volunteers and children with developmental disabilities to maintain an environment of inclusivity. Since about the third week of school, these dedicated students have worked countless hours to help produce the Best Buddies Champions Gala. This annual gala is the organization’s largest fundraiser of the year, and this year, due to the pandemic, the event needed to be held virtually.

For their part in this collaboration, AC students were given the responsibility of creating and producing vignettes, commercials, and promotional social media content for the gala, and their work culminated in the creation of a 30-minute pre recorded segment that aired December 5th on WROC Channel 8. Throughout the collaboration, students were in contact with the Best Buddies Program Manager, Lindsay Jewett, for nearly two months, often meeting with her via Zoom multiple days of the week as they planned and executed the various aspects of this project. They also had a virtual meeting with WROC to review the formatting requirements needed to  properly air their videos on TV. 

“Before Thanksgiving break, our group went to the Arbor Loft in Rochester to film for the prerecorded virtual gala. Students in our class also took on the responsibility of filming and editing hours worth of footage to make commercials to play on Channel 8 during the event. Throughout this process, each of us discovered that we were capable of doing big projects such as this, and we put our leadership skills to work identifying peer leaders within our group to help manage the program efficiently. We are very thankful to not only the Best Buddies Organization for letting us help with such a big project, but to our peers and teachers for helping us work on this safely and efficiently and, ultimately, leading us to success.”  Alicia Strader, AC Senior  

The Gala raised more than $35,000 for programming in WNY. To learn more about Best Buddies or to get involved visit

Watch the Virtual Gala Segment

Behind the Scenes

Students Involved

Morgan Fowler
Social Media Content Designer


Erin Kim
Logistics Support


Jonathan Ragan
Videography and Editing


Thomas Riveros
Videography and Editing


Alicia Strader
Social Media Logistics Lead


Awak Thongjang
Videography & Editing


Lola Wilmont
Project Lead  and Graphic Design


Faculty Director

Tony Tepedino

Tony Tepedino

Since 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?!
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Posted in: Authentic Learning, Diversity Equity and Inclusion, Highlights, Upper School

Allendale Columbia School Completes 21-Day Equity Challenge

Posted on November 20th, 2020 by lbrown


Allendale Columbia School is committed to fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion in our community, and we are proud to be one of the more than 400 local organizations to participate in the United Way of Greater Rochester’s 21-Day Equity Challenge. Prior to the Challenge, AC hosted a series of equity events, including a town hall meeting to explore the history of racism and resistance in Rochester as well as several listening sessions for parents and alumni. 

The 21-Day Equity Challenge covered a wide range of topics including basic definitions of bias and privilege as well as an overview of the challenges of talking about race. Education was a key focus of the series and included an examination of the economic and racial segregation of our local schools. It also offered critical tips on how to talk to children about race

The Challenge also showed how racial discrimination impacts many sectors including housing, wealth, the environment and health outcomes. It closed with a call to action that included advice on allyship and building a culture of racial equity within organizations.

Students, parents, faculty, administrators, and staff from Allendale Columbia School participated in the Equity Challenge. There will be an opportunity for them to come together and reflect on the experience in the near future, and we plan to return to these valuable resources as we work toward achieving our equity goals.

For more information about how you can get involved in these important discussions, please contact Lindsey Brown, Director of Equity and Community Engagement.


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Posted in: Diversity Equity and Inclusion, Highlights

A Racial Equity Lens

Posted on November 19th, 2020 by lbrown
Here is day 20 of the Equity Challenge!  Please make sure to check out local ways to continue the conversation including the United Way’s wrap up event on December 3rd and the Gandhi Institute’s Nonviolence News Happy Hour, and an upcoming talk by Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum at the University of Rochester.

One key element of the Racial Equity Challenge is to build the awareness, skill, and will to challenge. Challenge distorted history, stereotypes, implicit biases, single stories, and the continued use of discriminatory practices that prevent progress.
This also means challenging our own ideas, perceptions, and understandings by actively experiencing things through a racial equity lens, and resetting our programming to see all people as individuals rather than members of a certain group that we have (consciously or unconsciously) affixed with labels and expectations.
Dr. Eddie Moore, Jr., racial equity educator, author and co-founder of the 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge, recommends changing what you notice. Next time you’re with family, in your workplace or out in the world, pay attention to:
  • Who are your ten closest friends? What is the racial mix in this group?
  • How much time each day you are with people of your own racial identity?
  • What are the last five books you read or shows you watched? What is the racial mix of the authors, characters or actors?
Check out the resources and self-reflection below to develop a stronger understanding of this issue, consider new ways to see life through a racial equity lens, and move toward building a racial equity culture at your work and in your personal life.
The 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge does not support nor endorse any advertisements associated with the above content.
Questions to Consider for Self-Reflection:
  • What stereotypes, perceptions or understandings do you hold that you would like to challenge?
  • How can diverse communities and leaders be engaged from the outset so they have a real opportunity to shape racial equity solutions and strategies?
Local Ways to Get Involved:
  • Sign up for the 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge Wrap-Up event on December 3 from 2-3:30 p.m. hosted by YWCA of Rochester & Monroe County, Racial Equity & Justice Initiative (REJI), Causewave Community Partners, Catholic Charities Community Services, Common Ground Health, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative (RMAPI), University of Rochester, and United Way of Greater Rochester
  • Join the conversation at the M.K. Gandhi Institute Nonviolence News Happy Hour
  • Register for the University of Rochester Diversity Advisory Council and the Office of Equity and Inclusion’s virtual event featuring award-winning educational leader, best-selling author, and expert on the psychology of racism, Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, on November 30 from 7-8 p.m.
Share What You Learned:
Use the images below to share that you learned about race and equity today, and be sure to include #ROCequity.
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Posted in: Diversity Equity and Inclusion

The Racial Equity Change Process

Posted on November 18th, 2020 by lbrown
Day 19 of the Equity Challenge highlights the potential of true inclusion.  The video Inclusion Starts with I includes the following facts:
  • For every $100 a woman makes, a man makes $258.
  • Women of color hold 3% of C-suite positions.
  • 7 in 10 working fathers want to work more flexibly.
  • People with Disabilities are significantly more likely to experience unfair treatment at work than non-disabled people.
  • Transgender people are twice as licely to be unemployed and four times as likely to live in poverty.
  • 1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health issue each year.
  • Team performance improves 50% when everybody feels included.

We must continue to challenge ourselves to do more, to increase our awareness of injustice, and to actively step up to build equity in our networks and communities. This Challenge has offered tools and resources to advance racial equity. Where you put your time and effort in this work is up to you.
Change begins with each individual, and grows with intention and activism through networks, organizations, practices, and policies that advocate for inclusion and equity for all. Listening matters. Data matters. Representation matters. Actions matter.
We are in this together, and together we can make a difference. What do you plan to do next?
In the human services nonprofit sector in the U.S.,
90% of CEOs and 90% of Board of Director Chairs are white.
Board make-up impacts how it functions and the decisions it makes.
Inclusive, representative Board and staffing can advance policies and
decisions that support a racially equitable business and culture.
Option 1: Read Anti-Racism Defined
Option 3: Watch Inclusion Starts with I
The 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge does not support nor endorse any advertisements associated with the above content.
Questions to Consider for Self-Reflection:
  • What one small shift can you do to strive to be more anti-racist?
  • How do you think policies can be hidden or difficult to see in operation?
Local Ways to Get Involved:
Share What You Learned:
Use the images below to share what you learned about race and equity today, and be sure to include #ROCequity.
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Posted in: Diversity Equity and Inclusion

Being an Ally

Posted on November 17th, 2020 by lbrown
Today’s installment of the 21 Day Equity Challenge focuses on allyship.  It links to three short guides to how to be an effective ally in your work and personal lives.


The dictionary definition of ally is “a person or organization that cooperates with or helps another in a particular activity.” In today’s society, the term has taken on a more urgent and active meaning, however it is often misunderstood or misused to imply good intentions, often without action or with action for unproductive reasons.
For this reason, ally or allyship can be triggering terms for those who experience racism, oppression, and discrimination on a regular basis. Informed action is important for those who strive to be allies with marginalized people and communities.
According to Amélie Lamont in the guide below, being an ally doesn’t necessarily mean you fully understand what it feels like to be oppressed. It means you’re taking on the struggle as your own, and adding your voice or action alongside those who are oppressed. Being anti-racist is not a spectator sport, nor is it an individual activity. It requires recognizing and owning the privilege that you hold, to help carry the weight of oppression for, and in collaboration with, others.
There is a place for each of us in this work. Check out the Dos and Don’ts, and helpful tips to becoming a better ally in the resources below. Consider the reflection questions to get to work.
Option 1: Read Guide to Allyship
Option 2: Read Ten Things Allies Can Do
Option 3: Watch 5 Tips to Becoming an Ally
The 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge does not support nor endorse any advertisements associated with the above content.
Questions to Consider for Self-Reflection:
  • How can you become an informed ally?
  • What are three concrete ways that you can put this into practice in your daily life?
Local Ways to Get Involved:
Share What You Learned:
Use the images below to share that you learned about race and equity today, and be sure to include #ROCequity.
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Posted in: Diversity Equity and Inclusion

Building a Race Equity Culture

Posted on November 16th, 2020 by lbrown
Today’s resources are focused on building a race equity culture.  Please take a moment to watch Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s amazing TED Talk, The Danger of a Single Story and check out Wayne Lorenzo Titus’s tips for hosting meaningful diversity, equity, and inclusion conversations in your workplace.
Every person within an organization, group, and community contributes to the culture of that network. Building an equitable culture within our businesses, friend groups, family structures, and community interactions requires active efforts from each member to move forward.
The term anti-racist has emerged in recent years to advance and replace previously well-meaning words like tolerance and acceptance. While they are not negative, the terms are passive and can be seen as neutral in the fight against racism. Being anti-racist is an active way to evolve, grow, and move toward racial equity.
The National Museum of African American History & Culture says that for white people, this involves acknowledging their privilege, working to change internalized racism, and addressing racism when they see it. For people of color, it means recognizing how race and racism have been internalized, and whether it has been applied to others.
There are many ways to be anti-racist as an individual and within the networks in which we exist. Review the information below for helpful suggestions and tools to engage in this important work.
Option 1: Read Being Anti-Racist
The 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge does not support nor endorse any advertisements associated with the above content.
Questions to Consider for Self-Reflection:
  • What is your workplace doing to build a race equity culture?
  • How can learning about policies, racial groups, and outcomes help support anti-racism efforts?
Local Ways to Get Involved:
Share What You Learned:
Use the images below to share that you learned about race and equity today, and be sure to include #ROCequity.
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Posted in: Diversity Equity and Inclusion

Adverse Childhood Experiences

Posted on November 11th, 2020 by lbrown
The focus of today’s equity challenge is adverse child experiences (ACEs.)  ACEs are defined as traumatic events that occur in childhood, impact brain development, and sometimes have lasting negative impacts on wellbeing.  Did you know that in Monroe County 64% of children have experienced at least one ACE?  Below, you can read local ACE statistics, take the ACE survey or find out about everyday things you can do to help a child heal.

Today we are continuing our focus on children by exploring adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs. ACEs are traumatic events that occur in childhood (ages 0-17) that impact a person’s brain development and can have a lasting effect on their mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing into adulthood.
ACEs may include abuse, neglect, or being in a household with challenges related to poverty, mental illness, violence, and incarceration. According to the CDC, about 61% of adults surveyed across 25 states reported that they had experienced at least one type of ACE, and nearly 1 in 6 reported they had experienced four or more types of ACEs. Take the quiz in Option 2 below to find your own ACE score.
While all children experience ACEs, for communities of color ACE exposure is disproportionately high. An analysis by The Child & Adolescent Health Initiative shows that 6 in 10 Black children have ACEs, representing 17.4% of all children in the US with ACEs. This information connects to the Racial Equity Challenge Day 7 and 9 readings relating to health outcomes, and how Black and Latino people are more likely to experience the negative health effects brought upon by trauma, racism, and inequity.
The good news…ACEs do not define who you are. A deeper understanding of how ACEs impact young people, and the support of caring adults in their lives, can help them find strength and resiliency.
In Monroe County, 64% of children have experienced 1 or more ACEs.
23% are carrying 3 or more ACEs, causing a higher risk for poor mental, physical, and emotional health outcomes.
Option 1: Read about the statistics behind Adverse Childhood Experiences
The 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge does not support nor endorse any advertisements associated with the above content.
Questions to Consider for Self-Reflection:
  • What were some of your biggest challenges growing up? How did you overcome them?
Local Ways to Get Involved:
Share What You Learned:
Use the images below to share what you learned about race and equity today, and be sure to include #ROCequity.
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Posted in: Diversity Equity and Inclusion