On December 13, all Middle and Upper School students as well as faculty and staff spent the day in various workshops and activities as part of Dana Hall’s annual Day of Community Learning. The theme for the fourth installment was Building Bridges and Sharing Spaces, focusing on people, programs or organizations that are reaching out to others to close a divide and/or bringing people together to be in community with each other.
“Although it started as a way to take a break from the ‘regular’ routine of classes to address current events and human rights issues, to me, it has become an opportunity to empower students to drive their own learning,” said Jessica Keimowitz, director of the Upper School. “It isn't often that a middle and high school asks its students: What do you want to know? What do you already know and want to share with the community? What interests you? What questions do you have? And then we plan programs around those areas of interests and those questions.”
The day began with a keynote from Vivian Wu Wong, History Department Chair at Milton Academy, who spoke about her work on the history and experiences of Asian and Asian-American students in America, and how the label “model minority” can be perilous for students.
Students attended two of 28 different workshops, many of which were facilitated by their peers, including Facing Hate: Creating an Action Plan When You Want to Take Action, The Bitter Truth About Chocolate, and Boston Beyond Newbury Street: The Assumptions We Make About Life in the City. New this year was the addition of a shared studios portal where, through the use of technology, students could have a real-time conversation with groups in Afghanistan, Mexico and Honduras. Conversations ranged from corruption in government to an explanation of the app TikTok.
“Each year, students and adults come away from the Day of Community Learning energized by the power of the students' convictions and curiosity,” Keimowitz said. “The day allows us to dive into issues and topics that might not neatly fit within the curriculum, but that are critical to the development of 21st century thinkers.”
C. Cadwalader ’22, who co-led the session Queers Through the Years: Education by Your Peers, said, “My biggest take-away from the day was that there is still hope in the world. From doing my own research for my own presentation and being reminded of the long journey it took for the queer community to be accepted, to going to a panel that included queer stories from everyone from teenagers to people in their 60s, I was reminded that the world is never static. Everything is changeable; it’s just a question of how do we change it. And the thought that we’re never stuck in time gives me hope.”