We reach spring break after an emotional couple of weeks. It has been tremendously uplifting to be part of the Upper School during this time because of the ways in which students responded to the acts of anti-semitic and anti-black racist vandalism. During some tense and emotional days, they were able to engage in difficult conversations and express themselves to each other and to the faculty in mature and open ways.
At our school meeting last Tuesday, we asked students, in a town hall format, just to respond to the original piece of graffiti in the bathroom. What emerged were expressions of pain for some, outrage and anger for others, as students spoke openly about how it felt having our campus violated. Most impressive was the common feeling that we needed to work together to combat this hate, and that there were things we could do to improve our student culture. Several meetings of student leaders during the following days resulted in four tracks of action to take in response to these events and some of the other, similar, issues that emerged.
We started today with two of the tracks: education and a visible unifying action. One of the commonalities we discovered was that hate was not to be tolerated, and that we needed to understand the history of hate, and the relationship between anti-Jewish hate and anti-Black hate. We started that learning journey today with a short assembly talk that introduced the concept of hate in a historical context, as well as why it’s important to look at the roots and reality of bias. This talk sets up later events this spring that will further develop and deepen our understanding, into a more specific study of hate as it pertains to certain groups. The slides for that presentation earlier today are available for viewing; click here or visit www.d-e.org/USAssemblyMarch2019.
Today we also dressed in school colors and were presented a banner by student leaders that reads “We Stand Together,” in reference to students’ desire to demonstrate unity in the face of hate. During lunch everyone was invited to sign the banner, which will hang in the dining room for the rest of the year. In signing the banner, we hope to begin the third track of student action, which is to begin a campaign to eliminate the offensive and derogatory language that students hear too often on campus. The goal is for students to hold each other accountable for their language, and for the adults to hold students accountable for monitoring each other’s language. We don’t often hear it directly, but we will be more vigilant in general, and also help students to better monitor each other. That is a more long term outcome, but if we can even approach this goal as a result of these awful writings, it will be a proud accomplishment and legacy for the student body.
This week was also extremely busy academically, as teachers tried to close this part of the semester in a natural place before the break begins. This is the time of year when Interim Comments are once again available for viewing and were discussed by your child(ren) with their Advisor. The instructions for how to access Comments are provided below.
And a brief note about Academic Scheduling: We have formally begun the process of choosing courses for next year. This past Monday, parent meetings outlined the process and the choices that students have at each grade level. The powerpoint slides that each of the Grade 9, 10, and 11 Deans can be accessed here in this e-newsletter and are also posted on our online Parent Resource Board, which is accessible after you LogIn to MyD-E. Students will be spending the two weeks once we return from break working to finalize their selections, and you will be part of that process and need to sign-off on the final selection form.
Finally there are always lots of assessments this last week. Suffice it to say, students will likely reach today’s dismissal with joy, and now they will be able to relax and enjoy the break.
I hope that you all find that same relaxation and important time with family and friends.
Joseph Algrant, US Principal