On October 15, a group of 10 Princeton Day School 7th and 8th graders participated in the Middle School Equity & Inclusion Summit, hosted by Gill St. Bernard's School. Facilitated by MS CMDT Representative and History teacher Victor Cirilo, the PDS Middle School students participated in virtual discussions with peers from other schools. "The goal of the conference for middle schoolers is to be seen and be heard. The conference provides a place to learn why their story matters. They all have something to share about aspects of their identity, and the conference offers them an opportunity to be part of a conversational community and to be respected, valued and supported,” Mr. Cirilo said.
PDS students who participated in the conference were Krishna Agrawal '26, Brooke Bartlett '25, Saniya Bhanote '25, Aiyan Doshi '25, Ryan Falconi '25, Sahana Karthik '26, Daniel Rozenblat '26, Rishi Shah '25, Ellie Turchetta '25 and Aiden Wang '25.
Dr. Rodney Glasgow, Head of School at Sandy Spring Friends School in Sandy Spring, MD, and one of the founding members and now Chair of the National Association of Independent School’s (NAIS) annual Student Diversity Leadership Conference, gave the keynote address, stressing the importance of participation and bringing one's voice to the work of building inclusive communities.
Ellie Turchetta noted, "One aspect of the Summit that was really impressive was the amount of thought that students presented in discussion groups. Everyone was extremely open and willing to contribute. From the conference, we learned about how to be a leader, what characteristics you have to offer, and how to provoke change in your community.
Ryan Falconi shared, "I got to share some of my ideas and thoughts on how to make a change in our school community. In the conference, I felt like I had a voice. Other students were making connections to my ideas, and I was making connections to theirs. I could tell by their detailed responses to questions that all of the students really wanted to be at this conference and participate."
Brooke Bartlett added, "I was impressed by how everyone completely supported each other and how many very useful ideas everyone had to make our schools better places."
Daniel Rozenblat stated, "A key takeaway from the conference for me was to always be conscious of what you’re saying and always think before you speak so that you are respectful to others."
Mr. Cirilo supports regional conferences like the Summit as a crucial way for schools to build genuinely diverse, equitable and inclusive communities and as important opportunities for kids to experience at a young age.
"When kids have platforms to share their story, it is to the benefit of the entire School community. Summits like this amplify our students' voices and bring in those of peers beyond our School, creating a powerful shared learning and identity experience. As educators, we need to know the stories of our students to be able to make our work with them more impactful and meaningful," Mr. Cirilo stated.
"Each student's story is going to be different, which is where the emphasis on DEI work comes into play. At the heart of the DEI work is to make sure that every member of the School feels respected, valued, supported and like they have equitable access within the community," he concluded.
Photos (from top): Summit host on the DTEN D7 screen in the MS band room; students participating in discussion groups: Mr. Cirilo checking in with students as they participated.