Most schools have mission statements, but did you know that Solebury School also has a specific Diversity Mission Statement? It states, "Our inclusive community of learners challenges assumptions and acknowledges differences of every kind, including race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender identity, sexual orientation, faith preference, age, physical ability, and more."
Throughout the year, our affinity groups — Biracial Buddies, Black Friday, and LatinX — meet during club time to create a space for our underrepresented students and allies. These meetings are designed to create an intimate setting for powerful discussions on what is happening in the world today in regards to race, immigration, and cultural exploration. Sometimes, the groups hold joint meetings; for example, LatinX and Biracial Buddies teamed up earlier this year for a lesson on making traditional Colombian arepas. Students enjoyed making the dish, but they also had an opportunity to place written experiences of bias into a private bag to be shared anonymously with the group at large. This moment illustrated a common acceptance and awareness that we all have biases, as well as a need for empathy. To that end, our community created a larger umbrella-like program for teachers and students called the "Race and Respect" group. Teachers and students gather every three weeks for town hall meetings to help uncover inherent bias(es) and to give students and teachers a supportive and encouraging environment to discuss all things centered around our Diversity Mission Statement.
Throughout the school year, Solebury School also sends students to participate in outreach programs such as MARD, SCHout, and ST@MP. This year, students who attended these conferences returned with a sense of needing an all-school program here on campus focused on inclusivity and awareness. As a result, a student-driven assembly called, "Diversity: How Different Are We?" was created by our students to question one's awareness and biases in a constructive, educational, and supportive environment like Solebury.
Students designed the format of the assembly, chose the questions, and led what became an impactful school-wide exercise in the gym this month. The moderators posed questions to the entire student body and faculty that were answered by people moving to stand in a "yes", "no", or "undecided" section of the gym. The questions, which covered a variety of topics, included "Have you ever felt like you were part of a minority?", "Have you ever judged someone's religion based on their race?" and "Do you consider 50 to be old?" After each question, students and faculty were given an opportunity to share why they stood where they stood for their answers — and many did, describing personal experiences or thoughts about race, gender, religion, age, even learning styles. This candid, eye-opening assembly honored Solebury's continual commitment to respect, diversity, and inclusivity.
Next school year, Solebury will host monthly events dedicated to inclusivity. If you'd like additional information about these opportunities, please contact Dean of Students Annette Miller.