School-wide Conversation

At the national, state, and local level, we are witnessing distressing acts of intolerance and vitriolic speech. In an Op-Ed piece published yesterday in the Newton Tab, Superintendent Fleishman wrote: “As a school district, we must seize this moment to reflect…and expand our efforts to create school communities that are welcoming, supportive, and inclusive.”

With so much discussion nationally and locally, it is an ideal time for us to re-establish our norms here at South. We must continue to take an emphatic stand against hate speech of any kind, and to take a stand for valuing and celebrating our collective diversity.

We will start our conversation by asking students about their experiences as they walk the halls of South. Over the next two weeks, English teachers at all grade levels will engage students in a lesson defining hate speech. Students will be asked to take an anonymous survey identifying any hate speech they have experienced at South, how frequently, and in what locations. Students will then help us to analyze the results and develop ideas for next steps as a school community.

Integral to our efforts will be the understanding of how our intent can be different from the impact that others feel. If we aim to create a community in which all feel welcome, we must listen for the impact of our words and actions rather than attempt to justify our intent.

I look forward to working with students and staff as we continue our unwavering effort to maintain a community where all are valued, safe, and welcome.

As always, thank you for your support.