This fall the student inclusion committee and the faculty/staff inclusion committee are hosting a virtual Zoom series called “Can’t We Just Talk?” The events run from mid-October through early November and cover an array of topics while maintaining a focus on communication.
Both committees have been having conversations about civil discourse between people of differing opinions. Rachel Agosto, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, regularly meets with both groups separately, but brought them together for one larger meeting when she came to realize that both committees were having conversations about the same topic. She said of that gathering that “we reached consensus on wanting to create one community space for folks to join together to support one another, listen and learn from one another.” She added that the goal of this series “is to have a space where differing voices and opinions can be heard with the understanding that we are one George school and we are united regardless of our personal views or political views around the debates and election.”
The first event on Wednesday, October 14, from 6:30-7:30 p.m. will focus on the history of voting in the United States. There will be a historical presentation led by both students and adults that will allow for a unique learning opportunity outside of the classroom setting. The presentation will be followed by Q&A session and a discussion. While not all George School students are old enough to vote right now, they can still learn about the importance and power of voting, as well as ways that they can help out.
Let Your Life Speak – Spoken Word and Open Mic Night is the second event in the series, happening on Wednesday October 21, from 6:30-7:30 p.m. This event will be led by English teacher, Shantel Hubert. Examples of songs, poetry and other creative pieces centered around justice will be provided, followed by an invitation for students to perform an original work or a piece that resonates with them. “Let your life speak” is our guiding motto here at George School, and that theme will be reflected in these performances.
The third entry in the series is Letter Writing Night, which will take place on Wednesday, October 28 from 6:30-70 p.m. Students can use this opportunity for inner reflection and address a letter to their spirit, or can take the opportunity to reach out to the world around them. They can write something in response to this past year or to a leader who might need an extra lift themselves.
Election Day is November 3, and the final session, Election Night Debrief, will be on Wednesday, November 4, from 6:30-7:30 p.m. It will provide a safe space for students to share with and respond to one another. Rachel hopes that this particular event “will be a listening session where we can all support one another.” School counselor Caroline Bruss and History teacher Rebecca Missonis will help facilitate the discussion, along with members of the student inclusion committee.
Rachel stressed the importance of navigating difficult conversations and how it is a crucial skill for all. She stated, “learning how to approach people and situations with openness, ask questions, learn to engage with flexibility and the willingness to grow and learn something new, and seeking to create safe spaces for people with different views to share their own truths is so important.” This series aims to do just that. She referenced the importance of our current moment as she elaborated “especially now – with a global pandemic, structures of systemic racism being exposed and the polarizing political climate in the US – it is a great time for all of us in the GS community to be grounded by our core values and the mission of the school.”