On Thursday, March 24, Head-Royce students, faculty and staff had the opportunity to be in community for Diversity Day. This inaugural K-12 event—organized by the Office of Equity and Inclusion (E&I) in collaboration with division liaisons and the Upper School (US) Diversity Council (DivCo)—was a beautiful day of celebration and a living example of how diversity and intellectual rigor go hand-in-hand. With age-appropriate activities and workshops, it allowed students and adults alike, a chance to learn about other cultures and share experiences. From the food...to the activities...to the learning opportunities...to the music and dancing...there was something for everyone!
According to Kyong Pak, US Dean of E&I, the purpose of the day was to “come together in community to learn about our various identities, cultures and perspectives by engaging in different modalities of learning. Most importantly, we wanted this Community Day to be centered around joy and affirmation.” And it delivered. Says Liz Solis, Upper School Interim Academic Dean, "Diversity Day felt like a warm embrace. I've never felt so visible or affirmed on this campus."
The Lower School enjoyed an art mobile and yoga, and had the chance to "Mix It Up," with a Learning for Justice sponsored lunch event in which students "mixed up" their social dynamics by sharing lunch with students they may not know as well. This event demonstrated that our various experiences in life make us both similar and uniquely different.
Middle and Upper School students started their morning with Justine Ang Fonte, who gave a powerful keynote on body positivity and cognitive bias. In her impactful presentation, Ms. Fonte examined this type of oppression through a social-emotional lens and discussed how it affects people of all races. Each person in the audience also reflected on their own body image and how society influences it.
Students in both divisions then chose to attend two workshops from dozens offered—37 unique workshops for MS students and 44 for US students (!!)—and had meaningful opportunities to learn things from other cultures. Some were interactive—Mahjong; Taiko Drumming; Beat Making; K-Pop Dance; Calligraphy; Bachata Dance; the Art of Henna. Others were tasty—Kimbap/Musubi Making; Jewish Food and Yiddish Culture; Indian Food 101; Ramen and the Globalization of Food and Culture. And still others were deep and thought provoking—Mixed Kids: More than a Checkbox; GaymeTime: LGBTQ+ Representation in Video Games; Unpacking Privilege with Your Invisible Backpack; College Admissions and the Future of Affirmative Action; Critical Race Theory: What is it and What's All the Noise About; The Beauty of Identity; and a Discussion on Anti-Semitism.
Both divisions wrapped up their day in community, with the MS students in an assembly with a New Orleans inspired Second Line jazz band and the US students sharing appreciations and dessert! The insightful questions that students asked throughout the day and the rich classroom discussions demonstrated how meaningful and impactful this incredible day was for everyone.
Ms. Pak eloquently summarized the impact of the day, “I observed participants engaging with their whole selves—watching, listening, talking, tasting, feeling, moving—together across grade levels, genders and social groups. I watched our students take the lead and educate our community; I listened to HRS adults share their stories, their passions and their own learning journey; I felt the joy on the patio as we shared lunch together. It was amazing to be part of this day, and I can't wait for next year.”