On Monday, May 2nd, my upper school gathered in the theater for what would have normally been our Monday announcements assembly. However, today we encountered a change in the routine. Instead of a string of upcoming announcements from various students, we were faced with only four students, one freshman, two sophomores, and a junior. These students recounted for us how they move through the world- the expectations they must meet, their struggles with identity, and their interactions with others. It was an assembly of revelation for the upper school, and a much needed one at that. This assembly, organized by Ziad Ahmed, founder of Redefy, and Nick Jain, VP of Event Planning, was fittingly titled "Realizing Our Realities".
When the idea for the assembly was first conceived, its main mission was simply to yield a more conscious student body. "We all walk these hallways very differently." Ziad remarked frequently, and this assembly would have the task of communicating that to the students of my upper school. In a private school like mine, where at times it may seem as though all students are just incarnations of the same, middle-class, average student, it's easy to forget that we each lead such different lives. The speakers were a poignant reminder of that. Each speaker courageously took to the stage and spoke of an aspect of their identity that varied from place of origin to middle school experiences. These student speakers gave their audience a peek into what life looks like from their point of view, allowing the audience to momentarily step outside of their consciousness and into someone else's.
After the assembly, the upper school split into small groups for debriefing and discussion sessions. I was privileged to be the discussion leader of my group, and I witnessed firsthand the assembly's impact in action among my group members. After hearing only a few minutes of their peers' stories, my group members couldn't believe all that they had missed while interacting with the speakers on a daily basis. Even if only one student came away from the assembly with more curiosity about the experiences of others, and I saw a few students in my group alone whose curiously its was definitely piqued, then the assembly served its purpose. No matter how slow the process, spreading awareness through assemblies such as Realizing Our Realities is essential to a unified and accepting community.