On Saturday, November 10, Ms. Carol DiFalco took a group of Falmouth Academy middle school students (Ava Russell ’23, Leah Croom ’24, Sabrina Vasquez ’24, Sadie Leveque ’23, and Ned Heywood ’23) to a diversity conference titled, Use Your Voice sponsored by the Association of Independent Schools in New England (AISNE). Over 300 students from various independent schools around the state participated. Keynote speaker Shantae J. Edwards set the stage for the day with her motivational message of owning our unique stories and using our voices to stand in truth. Shantae talked from her experience and invited us to do the same. She then engaged us in an activity where we had to talk with people we didn’t know about people who inspire us. After that, we attended workshops on a variety of topics ranging from bias and influence in advertising to salsa dance lessons to LGBTQ+ identities and fingerprint art as an expression of the beauty of who we are.
Initially we were excited to go to meet other open-minded kids and get to know some of our schoolmates. We didn’t really know what to expect but by the end of the day it made sense. We learned that we need to know ourselves, trust our truth, and be open to hearing the stories of others to find common ground.
- by Sadie Leveque ’23 and Ned Heywood ’23
The theme of this year’s AISNE Middle School Diversity Conference, Use Your Voice, was a home-run message. Each of the multitude of workshops offered had the dual focus of finding courage to share your own story and the courage to truly listen to someone else’s story. Why do I use the word courage? Because the underlying foundation of courage is trust. Trusting when you share your story with another (friend, classmate, teacher, or peer) they will be there to include and support you. And, demonstrating through our actions and words that we can be trusted to include and support someone sharing their story with us. I am impressed by the depth and genuineness our students showed in learning about one another’s diverse backgrounds and being present in intentionally building our foundations of trust and courage. When we actively engage in cultural competency and inclusion everybody thrives. - Carol DiFalco
Interested in learning more? Check out Lee and Low Books: About Everyone - For Everyone.