Like most things in 2020, the People of Color Conference (POCC) and the Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC) were a little different this past December. The ongoing global pandemic forced both events to go virtual.
Although they weren't together in person, the deep connections made in years past were experienced once again by this year’s participants from St. Catherine’s.
The event, led by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), was attended by students, faculty and staff. St. Catherine’s students attending SDLC virtually were senior Kimberly Smith, junior Isabella Shely and sophomores Halli Friend, Alexandra Walker and Jala Wilson. Faculty and staff attending POCC were Andrea Byrd, Chris Carlisle, Mimi Glass, Deborah Smith, Bianca Spurlock and Ashley Wyatt.
Some of the sessions offered at POCC, which is for educators at independent schools, included: Beyond the Binary: Building Supportive School Environments for Gender Non-Conforming and Trans* Students; Set Up to Fail?: Red Flags for DEI Professionals Working for Institutional Change; What I Said and What I Meant: Cross-Cultural Communication; Conversations in Black and White: Building Trust, Honesty, and Dialogue in Independent Schools Confronting Truths.
“It was different in that I missed some of the personal informal conversations and connections that you make at this conference,” Byrd said. “But the conference was still good, and better than I expected.”
SDLC is for students in grades 9-12 at member NAIS schools. In addition to large group sessions, SDLC family and home groups allow for dialogue and sharing in smaller units.
“I learned so much and I met so many people who think like me,” Wilson said. “I felt like I made a connection with everyone I talked to and by Friday, we just felt like a big family.
“I learned that in order to make change, you have to make a plan and go for it until you get the results you want.”