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Powers For Good in the World: Students Gather For Social Justice Summit

A nor’easter was no impediment for the 2nd Annual Saturday Summit on Social Justice, which, despite the wind and rain throughout the day, saw more than 100 students in attendance at The Masters School's campus.
The Saturday Summit on Social Justice (SSSJ), which was co-hosted by The Masters School and Rye Country Day School on Saturday, October 27, is a full-day conference that gives local independent school students, faculty and administrators the opportunity to come together to explore and examine the important roles that diversity, equity and inclusion, and social justice play both in and outside of our school communities.

Student and adult affinity groups and workshops took place throughout the day on topics such as religion and identity, code-switching, intersectional feminism,  and institutional and individual racism. Karen Brown, Director of Equity and Inclusion, enjoyed “seeing the students present their workshops and participate in their affinity groups, which was very empowering for the students.” And because the summit is a safe space for students, said Brown, “they are able to talk about the things that are important to them.”

“I think it’s important for us to be together in this space and to feel safe together, even if you’re not a minority, to be an ally and let others know that you’re not alone in whatever you are going through,” said Youssef Aly ’19, a summit participant. Beyond sharing about their own experiences, participants came away from the summit with a better understanding of different issues and how those issues impact their peers. Ella Paolucci, a student at Masters’ CITYterm semester program, was interested to learn about how the practices of institutional and individual racism influence each other, and how individuals were impacted by institutions that are racially biased.  

“The topics that we discuss are sorely needed,” noted Ali Morgan, Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Rye Country Day School. Morgan emphasized that it is important “to have a full Saturday to spend time together, to learn, grow and connect.” With each student coming into the day with a unique, individual perspective and background, there were many opportunities for the students to listen and learn from each other.
Another highlight, said Brown, was a presentation by The Defamation Experience, a nationally acclaimed three-phase interactive diversity event in which the audience engages in civil discourse that challenges preconceived notions. The summit closed with a pizza dinner and dance, and parents were invited to participate in the final session of the evening.

For those who are interested in attending in a future summit, Brown confirmed that there are plans to have a Saturday Summit on Social Justice in the fall of 2019.