St. Andrew's 2022 Spring Magazine

Page 28

BELONGING AT ST. ANDREW’S 26

Student Q&A: Reflections on Classroom & Social Experiences BY DR. KENNETH D. WATERS UPPER SCHOOL DIVERSITY COORDINATOR

The mere existence of two people in a shared space creates diversity. At its core, diversity signifies variety, and is the practice of including or involving people from a range of racial, sexual, gender, ethnic, and other backgrounds. With this understanding, diversity is omnipresent, but when including its current day counterparts, such as equity, inclusion, and belonging, this term for some reason ignites a certain level of angst in individuals. In fact, as a result of such actions, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) practitioners have been highly sought after, whether in a consultant role or in an actual full time staff capacity – to shed light on why today’s school systems and workplace environments need to have such conversations and practices that value diversity among its staff. To this end, I solicited the thoughts of a few St. Andrew’s students in the form of a Q&A, to discuss their perspective on how diversity has impacted their lived learning and social experience at the school. The respondents are Julian Haas ’22, Savannah Wilson ’24, and David Stevenson ’22. Haas came to St. Andrew’s as a ninth grader and has been a key member of both the wrestling and soccer teams. Savannah Wilson, who is in the 10th grade and plays on the soccer team, has been a Lion since sixth grade and is a member of the school’s Black Student Association (BSA). Stevenson has been at St. Andrew’s since the ninth grade, and is the leader of the school’s A cappella group, captain of the baseball team, and SAES.ORG

SAVANNAH WILSON ’24 has spent three years as a member of the theater ensemble. Q: How do you perceive diversity as a student?

Haas: I perceive diversity as an opportunity to learn. I believe that exposure is one of the most important tools for learning, yet it is often overlooked. Thus, when I think of diversity, I see another opportunity to learn about someone and their perspective, not just a learner, but as a person.”

experiences, and realizing that no matter if someone talks different, acts different, or looks different, they are just like you. It has taught me to love those differences. Q: What would you say are the benefits associated with being a diverse community?

Wilson: Throughout my incredible years of being a student here, I was frequently met with the word “diversity.” From what I’ve gathered, diversity produces acceptance, awareness, perspective, creativity, and innovation.

Haas: While I believe there are numerous benefits to a diverse community, I have found that the creativity and innovation that diversity fosters is one of the most significant. With a community like that of St. Andrew’s, [there are] a myriad people who come from different backgrounds and perspectives; thus, many people perceive an issue or formulate an answer differently. This ultimately cultivates the creativity that homogenous communities lack.

Stevenson: I perceive it as having a mix of everyone, not just in terms of race or sexual orientation, but of just overall life

Wilson: At St. Andrew’s we have students from different backgrounds and this has created a unique experience for [us],