In August of 2020 Sam Weiss invited a group of students who showed interest in creating positive change at Collingwood School in regards to equity, diversity and inclusion to a casual but indeed uncomfortable conversation on EDI and the lack of it in our school.
Sophia Garofalo (‘21), Ash Alguneh (‘21), Jodie Shin (‘21), Jessica Zhang (‘22), Angela Zhu (‘22), and Devina Briggs Hammoud (‘22) continued the conversation beyond this initial meeting and unofficially formed the EDI student committee with the help of their teacher, Charly Pimentel.
The committee created a mandate focussing on how they can make sustainable change in our school community’s attitude, knowledge and action regarding diversity, equity and inclusion. Their focus has been racism and anti-racism but the committee is branching out to learn about oppression in all forms, including sexism, ableism, and homophobia.
They’ve been passionate about learning with one another and anyone else willing to learn with them. But they are also passionate about making political and structural change within our school with EDI in mind. The group has discussed at length that they see change happening through two ways—through culture, and through policy. By focusing on EDI education they believe they can change the culture of the school. But they also need to work on changing the policies, practices, and structures of our community.
A few initiatives the EDI committee created are “Conversations on Race” in which they host circle discussions after school, open to anyone in the community. They’ve held six this year so far, which have included conversations with both the senior girls and senior boys basketball teams, the debate club, the house captains, and the general community. The group also initiated the “Really” Campaign—a strategy to respond to discrimination and microaggressions—and created Flex programming for “Black Shirt Day” in January, as well as conducted a survey/reflection on race and racism that 493 community members participated in.
Most recently, the EDI student committee produced a video and campaign called, “Get Uncomfortable and Join the Conversation” which was presented during Flex class before the Spring Break. In this video they shared the data collected from the reflection/survey they conducted on Black Shirt Day. They also showcased a “conversation on race” which was filmed the week before, and launched some new initiatives.
For example, “Walk-in Wednesdays” happens every week at 12:15-1pm in the library classroom. It is a safe space for anyone to drop in with any questions, concerns, ideas, or experiences they want to share. The group also invites people to share their questions, concerns, or ideas using their “drop box” (both online and physical), the latter of which will be left in the library after Spring Break.
If you want to get involved with the EDI Student Committee see Mr. Pimentel or any of the following dedicated students:
“Get Uncomfortable and Join the Conversation”