|The opening of the 2011 MGP Diversity Conference.|
At 7:00 AM on March 1st Ayanna D., Jessie B., Victoria B., Amina N., Brooke F., Miana M., Allie D., Virgina L., and Julianna M. left the Garrison Forest School campus and traveled to the Middle Grades Partnership Diversity Conference held at the All Souls Church in DC. We were chaperoned by Mrs. Rao, Mrs. Chavez and Mrs. Cowling. We arrived and began mingling with over 400 other middle schoolers from Baltimore, DC, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia and even North Carolina.
We were split into small groups and listened and talked about what it means to be inclusive and exclusive and why people are included and excluded. Some reasons that people are included could be their age, gender, race or ethnicity, and many more. The same applies to being excluded. Next, we went into another room and saw a play of improvisation based on stories from people in the crowd. Basically someone told their story and then it would be represented through improvisation.
|Meeting new friends!|
We went on to different locations such as the library and the cafeteria to talk with groups of boys and girls of different schools. We talked about what diversity really means. Inclusion and exclusion, problems and solutions are school has with diversity and more. Lunch was after that and then we met back with everyone from your school and GFS talked about the “ins and outs” at Garrison. What is “popular” and “unpopular”? We ended with an open mic session during which kids talked about some of the most important topics that came up through the day. Someone at the open mic said “Being excluded is being included”, meaning that when you or your group is excluding someone else, you might feel more included into the group because you are agreeing with everyone.
What has the Garrison Forest Diversity Leaders Team take back to school? We now know how to interrupt when we see exclusion. Exclusion means the excluding of one, or a group of people from friendship or just being friendly. In the conference we learned there are many differences and similarities in everyone’s perspective. We talked about money, gender, age, sports, clothing, physical aspects, language, and extracurricular activities. Being leaders at Garrison Forest School we want to break the ice; breaking the tension between fellow peers and faculty. Stereotyping others is what hurts the most in today’s society. This means that even before you greet one another, you look at their appearance and think that’s all you need to decipher a code when there really is no code to decipher in the first place. The code of what that person wears and even the language they speak. The Garrison Forest Team wants to bring back all of the knowledge we have learned at the conference. Being a leader isn’t about bossing everyone around, but it’s about thinking ahead, showing your school that you want school life to be fun yet a learning experience.
Being at the conference has shown our team that we all believe in equality and inclusion. Everyone has either been included and has excluded others at some time in their life, but that has to change. It must change for the better, not for the worse. Life with be a lot easier without exclusion because when there is less exclusion and more inclusion, friendships can and will be made. All of the barriers will be destroyed and everyone can be proud of how they look, laugh, and even the clothes they wear because it won’t make a difference! The Garrison Forest Team will make Garrison Forest School more open to diversity with help of our fellow students and teachers.
“We're all the same color......just different shades." -Miana M. (8th Grade)
"Today I learned that even though we have I diversity group that doesn't mean that everyone knows what that means and I will try to make a difference." -Virginia L. (7th Grade)
-- Text by Virgina L. and Julianna M. / Photos by Julianna M. and Brooke F. (Class of 2016)