Dear HHS Community,
I would like to encourage all members of our community to read the update (found immediately below) from the Hanover High School Equity Committee. Additionally, I would like to thank the staff, students and community members who are part of this incredibly valuable work.
Thank you in advance for your time in reading the update (again, found below),
Please Read - Update from HHS Equity Committee:
Dear HHS Community,
We hope this message finds you and yours healthy and safe. Against the backdrop of both the global COVID crisis and the most recent incidents of racial injustice and violence, we write to share what is happening at the high school around the urgent issues of equity and racial injustice.
This work at the high school is only beginning, but we have made substantive progress in the last two years. During the 2018-2019 school year, staff members noted the need for professional development and attention to the issue of equity. A group of staff members began meeting to study together the history of racial injustice, examine our own biases, and begin to plan action steps to increase antiracism at the high school.
This year, the group has grown to 30+ staff members who met monthly to do personal identity work and conduct equity-related action research projects. Our attention to equity this fall prepared our staff to better recognize and address the disparities in students' circumstances and access to education during the remote learning period: concerns around equity was at the heart of our staff-wide support for a Credit/No Credit grading scale for this spring semester.
In addition to the staff small group, HHS invited the other district schools to partner in this work. At the start of this school year, we formed the SAU 70 Equity Committee, made up of representation from each of our four schools. We partnered with Mid Atlantic Equity Consortium to conduct a district-wide Equity Audit to examine issues of equity in our district. Going into this audit, we established our long-term goal: students’ identities cannot be used to predict their experience in the district or educational outcomes. Now more than ever, we hold this goal in highest esteem.
The district committee has continued this work during the remote learning period. As part of the Equity Audit, our community (staff, students, and families) completed school climate surveys in mid-April. We also welcomed 5 parents to the committee to help us make sense of the data and Equity Audit report from MAEC, and to determine next steps. We are in the midst of this work right now and will continue into the summer. We hope to soon share findings of the audit and recommendations with the staff at each school, the district’s strategic planning committee, and other stakeholders.
Preliminary analysis of our data revealed the importance of staff professional development as an essential next step. We are in the process of developing an equity-focused professional development program for Dresden School District staff for the 2020-2021 school year.
Concurrent with the beginning of the staff equity small group in Spring of 2019, we also acted upon student requests to start an affinity group for HHS students of color. The students quickly took the lead with this group and chose to organize the Diversity Club at the start of this school year. This is a club, open to all students, that has met with the goals of making and ensuring an inclusive community at HHS and learning and educating about racial literacy and diversity.
This outstanding group developed and lead this year’s MLK Assembly and Exploring Whiteness and Anti-Racist Activism March Intensive. The Diversity Club also just issued a survey to our school community, seeking stories of injustice and resilience, with the goal of sharing these stories as tools for peer-to-peer teaching, reflection, and connection. If you are a student or a staff member reading this, we encourage you to share your stories here.
During Wednesday's Council Meeting, the entirety of the discussion focused on how Council could be more active in advocating for racial justice. Council voted to form the Anti-Racism and Inclusivity Ad-Hoc Committee, with the goal of amplifying the efforts already going on in our school and to help translate those to Council legislation.
The concentration of whiteness and wealth in our community is symptomatic of the systemic racism that has shaped our nation’s history and current reality. The privilege in our district presents us with both responsibility and opportunity. We must apply our significant resources to ensure that all students have equitable access to an inclusive, empowering high school experience. We must listen to and support our Black students and all students of color. We also must equip white students and staff to examine their own privilege and use their power to work towards a more just world. We believe that Hanover High School can and must do better.
If you would like to be involved in this important work, we want to hear from you! Please reach out to us to express your interest.