By Cameron Powell, Staff Writer
// On Jan. 9, Acalanes student representatives attended a District-Wide Equity Summit at Del Valle Education Center to learn about equity in its many branches.
Bay Area high school and middle school students gathered to share a day full of meaningful discussions with a range of different opportunities to collaborate.
“It started with a keynote speaker, and then there were two sessions where each school presented on different equity-related topics in various rooms around the school, and students got to choose which two presentations they wanted to go to,” Diversity Board co-head, Feminism Club Co-President, and senior Sophia Acuff said.
The structure of the summit allowed students to have a unique and informative experience.
“It is also amazing to attend a student-run equity summit [because] instead of being talked at, there was more of an opportunity for conversation and connection by students who knew what they were talking about,” Diversity Board member and sophomore Ash Lee said.
Attendees had opportunities to engage in discussions, and lead presentations for their peers.
“I had the privilege of presenting on ‘Gender Expectations, Standards, and Stereotypes’… I was also able to attend another presentation by Los Lomas on religious stereotypes vs actual traditions which was very interesting,” Diversity Board Secretary and junior Gabe Gardner said.
Those who attended also had the opportunity to learn from people with unique perspectives and experiences.
“Something I learned was specifically going to the religious tolerance one, that we all need to support each other no matter our differences and stick together, even if someone doesn’t have the same beliefs as you you have to respect them,” sophomore Matthew Bacon said.
Learning about specific patterns of inequity in an interactive environment can help students be able to identify and prepare for when those instances occur.
“My main takeaways are kind of new perspectives on how mental health can be affected by different nuances of identity, and it can definitely help me when approaching someone else. It’s super helpful to be in a space with other people with different perspectives who are also ready to learn,” Lee said.
Although some topics were already familiar to students, revisiting them allows for deeper thinking and the opportunity to hear more perspectives.
“One thing that was talked a lot about was intersectionality. I think this is a really important topic to learn about because it helps us understand our identities and privileges, and how the different aspects of our identities work together to shape our experiences,” Acuff said.
A significant feature of the event is how it brings in new voices each year, and what is taught there can be spread through everyday actions.
“I’ve attended twice now, and now I need to give my seat to people who deserve it more so that other people can learn like I have and bring it back to Acalanes,” Gardner said.
The summit ultimately gives students an opportunity to unpack various topics each year through the perspectives of students and advisors from across the community of school districts.
“I think the more equity summits we have, the more we realize everybody’s stories… everybody has something they’re dealing with and if we’re able to share those people’s stories we’ll be able to understand people more and understand what they’re going through, we’ll also be able to learn to respect people more, and respect each other’s differences,” Bacon said.
Graphic by Owen Salmon, Cartoonist