Community Life offers a platform for middle schoolers to both celebrate and improve student life at Severn. Students join the club to practice advocacy and leadership and to discuss what it means to be part of a community by exploring topics like civility, equality, inclusivity, and more. This year, the club took on two major initiatives to promote a culture of belonging in our Middle School through assessment and action: a DEI survey and a kid-friendly collection of DEI resources for their peers to easily access. With the support of faculty advisor Ms. Whitney Etchison, the club demonstrated that good leadership comes from asking thoughtful questions, listening with empathy, and acting with intention.
Assessment: The Survey
The Community Life Committee created a survey for all middle schoolers with questions in six areas related to diversity, equity and inclusion:
The group followed an intentional process, from creating and editing the questions to administering the survey and presenting the results to their peers. In their Zoom presentation to the entire Middle School community, they shared statistics on knowledge, interest, and comfort level of these topics, along with data about the prevalence of inappropriate comments at Severn, the difference between a joke and an insult, and anecdotes from students' experiences in code switching at school.
"We had a lot of great conversations during that process about the needs of our community, what kinds of questions we thought were important, and how we could use the information we received. As a result of the survey, we decided the greatest current need in our community was helping people become more informed about, and more comfortable with, topics that can sometimes feel very tricky or potentially controversial." — Ms. Etchison
Action: Topics Pages in mySevern
Based on their survey results, the group took on their second big initiative, creating Topics pages in mySevern that would provide resources on the six DEI areas from the survey. The group gathered online resources for the pages, identified key vocabulary, and brainstormed different types of media (books, webtoons, tv shows, and movies) that provide a positive representation of each topic. To include their peers even further, they ran an art contest in which the winning pieces became the cover photo for the accompanying topic. All submissions were included in an online photo album and the Community Life crew created a large library display of the artwork with books related to each topic.
Although Ms. Etchison served as a facilitator and organizer, the students of Community Life led these initiatives from start to finish. Their energy represents a growing interest in advocacy and social responsibility among our 6th, 7th, and 8th graders, a desire to address the real needs of our community, and the collective drive to make our Middle School the best it can be for each and every Admiral. 20-21 Community Life members include Lina Gunhus '27,Katharine Kraft '27, Caroline Shenck '27, Rowan Ward '27, Helena Wolfe '27, Clara Anderson '26, Olivia Jishi '26, Lydia Saunders '26, Nina Ambro '25, Emma Foster '25, Natalie King 25, and Jameila Pennant '25.