The theme of “Revolutionary Joy” was the backdrop for the fifth annual Saturday Summit on Social Justice (SSSJ), which welcomed more than 100 attendees from eight local independent schools on a beautiful fall day.
Masters co-hosted the on-campus conference with Rye Country Day School (RCDS) on November 20 for students in grades 8-12, faculty, staff and administrators. Workshops and affinity group discussions closely examined the important roles that diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice play both inside and outside school communities.
The summit’s agenda covered topics ranging from uncovering hidden biases, code switching and activism to talks on BIPOC and LGBTQIA representation in the media. Associate Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Selas Douglas said, “We spent the day exploring how to pursue matters of justice while working to identify opportunities to lean into joy, so having everyone in person really exemplified our message for the day.”
Associate Head for DEI Roland Davis, whose team organized the summit with the DEI team from RCDS, felt energized by what he saw. “Two schools had never sent participants to SSSJ before, which was quite exciting,” he said. “It was terrific to make connections with folks from other schools. The day was full of liveliness, candid conversations and a lot of fun.”
First-time attendee Lucas Sequinot ’24, who facilitated the workshop “Understanding Privilege in Independent Schools,” added, “I loved seeing the participants learn, but for me, hearing all of their opinions and experiences was eye-opening.”
Spoken word poet and writer Rashan Brown, a.k.a. Rush The Mic, was the featured keynote speaker. Upper school languages teacher Abdoulaye Ngom enjoyed how Brown “shared with the audience his own life experience and background. It was very inspiring and meaningful, especially for the students.”
Participating in the Hispanic Affinity Group had a big impact on Claress Bahamundi ’23: “When I stepped into the room, I was met with so many faces I had never seen before, but before I left I knew everyone's name and felt like I was surrounded by familia. Sharing a bond through culture is indescribable because everyone just ‘gets it.’”
Forming new friendships and bonds are a big part of the day. Class of 2022 Dean and upper school health teacher Shelly Kaye appreciated coming together with “like-minded colleagues to share our experiences and support each other as we work to improve ourselves and our communities through social justice work.”
Kaye emphasized the importance of supporting programs like SSSJ and was especially grateful for the event’s pizza dinner and dance: “Given all the trauma of the past two years, it was even more special to watch the students and faculty experience moments of pure joy together. It nourished the soul.”