Diversity, equity, and inclusion at Stone Ridge School are inherently connected to the Goals of Sacred Heart education to advance understanding and respect among people of all cultures, religions, and races. Stone Ridge recognizes diversity as encompassing various dimensions, such as ethnicity, age, nationality, gender, mental/physical abilities, characteristics, socioeconomic status, and sexual orientation, as part of the human experience, one in which each person is created in the image of God.
Each year, Stone Ridge selects one of the Five Goals of Sacred Heart education as a focal point for the year. In 2021-22, the focal goal was Goal IV: the building of community as a Christian value. As a Sacred Heart school that is deeply dedicated to building a community where diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, and belonging are celebrated as core values, during the year we continued to provide programming, coursework, reflective opportunities, and social events designed to lift up every member of our school community as a beloved Child of God. Our approach to this work is woven into every facet of school life, including culture and operations, curriculum, and policy and comes through the combined efforts of our DEI program, Sacred Heart Formation to Mission program, campus ministry, counseling department, Social Action program, Institutional Advancement office, Professional Development program, and Academic Leadership Team. This work is focused on our call to live our faith fully through the manner in which we spread the Gospel values.
Here is a sampling of the many highlights of last year’s approach to this work. Lower School students held various assemblies to celebrate identities such as the Native American, Hispanic, and Indigenous peoples during heritage months. Middle School students invited author Paula Chase to talk about her project “The Brown Bookshelf” and the importance of Black authors in children’s literature. Upper School students organized “Voices and Agency Day: A Reflection of Goal IV”, a school-wide celebration of community members’ voices, passions, and identities. The Social Action program encouraged Upper Schoolers to reflect on human interconnectedness and accountability by adopting the essential question, “How is my well-being bound up in yours?” The Advancement Office wrapped up the three-part Alumnae Voices for Community series by sharing information on the student experience and current Stone Ridge efforts to increase access and support for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) students. Parents and guardians attended Better Together programming, which reaffirmed our values as a Catholic School connecting DEI work with the tenants of Catholic Social Teaching. Finally, for the sixth year since the 2015-16 school year, Stone Ridge has earned the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) designation of being a No Place For Hate® school. This program provides framework and encouragement for schools across the nation to be inclusive places where all people are known, valued, and loved.
Keeping It Real
The sounds of snapping fingers echoed throughout the Cokie Boggs Roberts ’60 Theater as author Paula Chase shared her experiences as an African-American growing up in predominantly White suburban communities. Ms. Chase recounted times as a youth when she defied people’s expectations and was teased for not acting “Black” enough and the long-term effect of stereotyping. “You can govern yourself so that you are a part of the change of the world around you,” she said, prefacing how she combined who she was naturally with her talents to affect change.
Ms. Chase talked through how she infuses her writing with “sneaky advocacy” by representing voices that aren’t normally heard and the birth of her project, The Brown Bookshelf, an award-winning blog that creates awareness of Black voices in writing for young readers.
DEI Club members were able to ask Ms. Chase questions to wrap up the program. They asked the author: What kind of books did you read as a child? What would you say to young aspiring authors seeking to write about meaningful topics? And, what is one thing you could tell your younger self before going on this journey as a celebrated author?
Members of the DEI Club reflecting on her visit described Ms. Chase as relatable and the best speaker to visit Stone Ridge. Students appreciated Ms. Chase’s authenticity when she shared how she managed difficult experiences like microaggressions. Caitlyn, the DEI Club student leader, had the honor to introduce Ms. Chase to her Middle School peers “my heart was beating so fast,” she said. Thought she was overwhelmed by nerves in the moment, as Caitlyn listened to Ms. Chase’s talk, she “felt really proud” and saw Ms. Chase as a role model. “It was an inspiration for me to introduce her,” she reflected.
Headstones and History
Mr. Tom Duckenfield, III, and Dr. Garrett Lowe presented Headstones & History: Black Lives Matter(ed) for the Stone Ridge community in April. Their presentation focused on how the erasure of African-American and Indigenous communities occurred throughout the DC metro area from the 1600s through the present day. They discussed land acquisitions and the impact of European settlers on indigenous Algonquian Nacotchtank (Anacostian) peoples and free and enslaved African-Americans spanning critical moments in DC’s history. Mr. Duckenfield and Dr. Lowe began their work together in the summer of 2020, researching the ancestry of two cemeteries, Mount Zion and the Female Union Band Society, in Georgetown. They enlisted the help of 25 people, teens and adults, from the DC area to uncover and restore headstones and bring to life the stories of the deceased. Through their project, they revealed a rich, racially diverse, and complex history and continue to add to the ancestry and genealogy of area marginalized people.