Groton Students Attend the 2022 Student Diversity Leadership Conference


As the movement to promote and understand social justice becomes increasingly critical, student leaders are continuously at the forefront of the effort. This November, Groton students Olivia Fayemi ‘23, Jaden Adinkrah ’23, Lang Burgess ’23, Joon Whang ’23 and Jiacheng Kang ’22 participated in the annual Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC), hosted by the National Association of Independent Schools. Advised by Groton’s Director of Inclusion Outreach, Ms. Chica, the group virtually joined over one thousand high school students from institutions across the country and abroad to build a curriculum based on core culture identifiers. The conference, which Groton has attended for several years now, discussed principles of diversity, allyship and community, featuring keynote speakers and various student exercises. 

The days were split into three parts for the students: meeting with their “family” group in the morning, gathering with their “neighborhood” group at midday, and ending the day with their affinity groups. The family groups were made up of about thirty randomly selected students who discussed a wide variety of topics, from race to socioeconomic status, and participated in virtual activities to become better acquainted with each other. Similarly, neighborhood groups included randomly selectedstudents collaborating in virtual activities. For example, they participated in an exercise where the group was asked a prompt about their backgrounds and turned their cameras on or off based on how the question applied to them. Lastly, students would meet with affinity groups split by identifiers such as race and sexuality. These groups gave students deeper insight into the experiences of students across the country with similar backgrounds to their own. Ms. Chica highlights the affinity groups as one of the most special aspects of the conference: “A lot of students share things they don’t usually share in their own schools… It was so special to be there with 300 Latino students, even in the virtual room with 300 Latino students. They all talked about similar struggles and were so proud of themselves within each other.”

Overall, Groton students had positive experiences at the SDLC. Olivia commented that she enjoyed “being in a space with kids who wanted to discuss these topics.” She feels that being able to discuss with other students about their own experiences at their respective schools gave her a deeper appreciation for Groton and the resources that it provides for diversity and inclusion. Joon was “amazed at the maturity of the people at the conference and their willingness to discuss sensitive topics,” which in turn encouraged him to engage more in the conference. Joon does note that the experience was slightly diminished due to being fully virtual, and while he enjoyed the event, he feels that it lost some of its potential with participants not being able to communicate face-to-face. Olivia recommends this event to anyone who enjoys attending D&I meetings, and wants to seek deeper conversations on the topics discussed in these meetings.