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Middle Schoolers Lead the Way at Diversity Retreat
Middle Schoolers Lead the Way at Diversity Retreat

From the desks of Dori King (OES Director of Inclusion and Community Engagement) and Ann Sulzer (OES Middle School Head):

"Last Friday and Saturday, the OES Middle School hosted the annual Northwest Association of Independent Schools (NWAIS) Student Leadership and Diversity Retreat. One hundred seventy-five students from 20 different schools, some traveling from as far away as Salt Lake City, participated in the two-day overnight retreat.

Building connections as well as greater appreciation and understanding of individual identity, students rotated through various workshops. Dr. Bryan Hotchkins presented "Who I Am Impacts How I Lead," students attended another workshop on engaging in difficult conversations by standing up for what you believe, and participants explored collaboration and leadership through activities. These activities were led by Experiential Education Coordinator Tom Handel and Sixth Grade Team Leader/Science Educator Laura Todis.

The students finished the day with local youth leader Tyler White helping the middle school students think about ways to act on their beliefs.

Upper School students also attended, facilitating affinity groups and home groups. Special thanks go to Anna B.'18, Sara B. '18, Annie W. '21, Vy N. '21, Hayden N. '20, Marycelia H. '21), Kendall K. '21, and Marie B. '18.

This was an amazing opportunity for our own Middle School students to share common experiences and build leadership skills to bring back to our school. Some of the students' big takeaways were:

'[I enjoyed] going to my affinity group and meeting people who shared my experience.'

'I'm not alone with my beliefs.'

And when asked to reflect, one student offered this as a key idea to bring into the Middle School: 'The idea of being yourself and being proud of who you are.'"

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