High School Dialogues on Race Help Foster Community

Source: Catholic News

As the United States continues to grapple with issues of race, students at Notre Dame High School in Lawrenceville, New Jersey are seeking to create more inclusive communities.

Prompted by the killing of George Floyd, students of color at the predominantly white 65-year-old high school have begun to more openly talk about their experiences of discrimination and harassment.

Opening up during a meeting of the school’s African American club, Jahmai Person, a 2017 Notre Dame graduate said, “We had a long talk about it.” Liz Ivins, the school’s principal, reacted to students saying the school needed to grow to address the issues of race.

A few weeks after that initial meeting, 12 members of the group united in prayer before addressing 100 white faculty members about what their experience was like as students of color at the school.

After they finished, several of the teachers hugged the students, then shared a meal. One of the speakers described the encounter with white faculty as “really delicate.”

A few months after the initial conversation with their teachers, the school began the process of making major changes. Perhaps the biggest was an amendment to the school liturgy to celebrate Black History. Further, the school in partnership with Shades organized a charity fundraiser called Hoops for Hope, that became an annual event to support minority programs.

Additionally, the students and faculty continued to meet with each other to discuss challenges, hear guest speakers, plan annual retreats and liturgies but something else was also happening on a broader scale, showing them the school leadership had their back.

Since that initial meeting, the African American Club changed its name to the Shades Club to broaden its focus and embrace a more diverse membership of students. By creating safe spaces to talk about diversity, equity, and inclusion, both Shades and Notre Dame are hoping to become bridge divides that create optimal spaces for all students to learn and thrive.

Source: Catholic News