Students Take a Pause

School Day Cancelled for Inclusivity Workshops


Photo: Kayla Sanford

As part of the day on pause, no cameras were permitted. This illustration represents the activities that were done on that day.

On Monday, Sept. 23, St. George’s took a day to reflect on recent incidents that have left students, faculty, and parents struggling with feelings of hurt and anger. A recent chapel sermon given by a guest speaker, which included some negatively stereotyped remarks reignited feelings that remained almost unaddressed since the release of a Commercial Appeal article that highlighted inadequate punishment of students using racial slurs. On this day, classes were cancelled across the whole Collierville campus, and a team of teachers and administrators prepared a series of activities to bring the students together and gain skills in communication and connection.

Instead of four classes, there were four activities that the school houses rotated through until lunch. Held in the Senior Dining Hall, Upper School english teachers Ms. Leanne Ricketson and Ms. Marilee Malott ran an activity about empathy; students took a quiz to find their love languages, watched a video on the difference between empathy and sympathy, and acted out examples to practice empathetic responses. 

In Agape Chapel was a guest speaker, Reverend Cedrick Jackson, who gave a speech about an encounter with racist remarks when he was younger. After hearing Rev. Jackson’s words, students did a few activities focused on inclusion and exclusion led by Associate Director of College Guidance Ms. Jessica Hardy. 

Upper School religion teacher Mr. Kyle Slatery and Upper School science teacher Mr. Michael Masters led a presentation about the “Danger of the Single Story,” which included a TEDtalk by author Chimamanda Adichie. Students used the active listening skills they learned in the presentation to discuss pictures and photos in small groups. 

In the Slatery Gym, advisories grouped up to play a game called the “Box Talk” where students left their advisory groups and gathered with a mix of students in the center of the gym if they self-identified with a statement read by one of the game’s leaders, Upper School Dean of Students Ms. Kalyn Underwood and Upper School Director of Counseling and Guidance Ms. Elizabeth Bran. The purpose of this activity was to realize that there are many underlying connections between students that are not easily seen. 

After a lunch break, students gathered together by grade level and shared their desires for the future; they broke down what they want from their peers, from their faculty, and what they needed for a successful year. During the time usually occupied by x-block, the student body had a release to end the day, choosing among study hall, meditation and mindfulness, coloring, journaling and reading, a MySpace Alliance storytelling meeting, basketball, and other recess activities. 

The Lodge is actively soliciting stories and interviews from the day. Want to be heard? Reach out to [email protected], or reply in the comments here!