Berkeley Hall School was represented at the recent Pollyanna Conference, the 4th Annual meeting of its kind at Harvard Westlake with the purpose of exploring diversity, equity, and inclusion. The theme of this year’s conference was “Courageous Conversations: Learning to Connect Authentically and with Compassion.”
The purpose of the day was to give space to learn specific strategies for engaging in courageous conversations on numerous topics that easily divide communities from commonly marginalized groups.
The mission of Pollyanna is to create a platform "where groups of people can explore together diversity, inclusion, and equity and share ideas, experiences and knowledge in order to become change agents in their immediate communities.”
The day began with brief opening remarks and a special keynote speaker followed by workshops in which school representatives discussed navigating difficult conversations around inclusion. Following lunch, there was a dynamic student presentation and continued conversations about next steps for school conversations.
Participating schools were encouraged to send student and parent representatives. Berkeley Hall was generously represented by several parents: Susan Evans, Zully Gonzalez, Hamdeep and Sehanjot Singh, and Shannon Westmore; our student body was represented by Student Council Co-President, Moises D.:
"This year's topic of discussion was "Courageous Conversations." Leading the first half of the conference was a presentation by Baratunde Thurston. He is an activist who's hosted many shows and Ted Talks and he comes from a family of hard-working people of color. In his presentation, Thurston talked about our country’s democracy and history. He focused on calling out racism in schools and in public. And how to be open to diversity.
After the presentation from Mr. Thurston, we went off into breakout rooms and talked about how we can make our schools more diverse. And from there we went to zoom rooms specifically for the Berkeley Hall community.
It was an honor attending such an empowering and amazing conference. I learned many things from the others who attended the conference. And from what I heard, Berkeley Hall is going in the right direction, and we must keep on going in that direction to achieve the goal of having more diversity, more inclusivity and more equality."
- Student Council Co-President, Moises D.
"The Pollyanna Conference provided a meaningful springboard into a larger conversation about DEI. After attending workshops with parents from other schools, it was insightful to share viewpoints with BHS parents and eighth grader, Moises Diaz, discussing what’s working well at Berkeley Hall and ways to further strengthen our community."
“We enjoyed the Pollyanna Conference! It really opened many conversations for students and parents to converse about diversity and inclusion. We discussed some ideas of ways we can bring even more diversity to Berkeley Hall.”
-Hamdeep and Sehanjot Singh
BHS is making strides in our work with diversity, equity, and inclusion and we look forward to sharing our progress and next steps with soon.