Sophomores and juniors attend IDEAS Conference
February 15, 2019
On any normal Saturday, the students of WHS would not be waking up early in the morning, but December 8 proved different for a select group of students. Eight sophomores and juniors attended the Identity, Diversity, Equality, and Achievement (IDEAS) Conference located in Bedford, MA.
Students from many schools attended the conference, which focused on equity and equal opportunities for all, as well as supporting people of different backgrounds. Adjustment counselor Paula Gearan described how the conference achieved these goals through student discussions.
“They talk about the diversity of every race, socioeconomic class, and gender expression; how to be inclusive and how to make the school safe for all students in every way,” Gearan said.
Junior Kimberly Nicholson was one of the eight students selected for the IDEAS conference. Before Nicholson went to the conference, she commented on what she hoped to learn.
“I’d like to be able to think of ways that we can help to stop racism or anti-semitism from being in our school,” Nicholson said.
In addition, sophomore Jacob Finard, who was another one of the eight students attending the conference, explained an activity about stereotypes that they participated in.
“We discussed each and every single stereotype and why that was the case. If some kid didn’t understand what it was, we’d discuss it,” Finard said. “We understood why people think the way they do [about stereotypes], and why it’s incorrect to think [that way].”
Finard also expressed that he had a positive experience meeting new people at the conference.
“It was cool because we got to talk with new people from different schools,” Finard said. “It was good to step out of my comfort zone. Meet new people and talk about topics that are not usually discussed very frequently.”
Nicholson commented on a meaningful activity that all students at the conference participated in.
“Everyone that went to the conference got into a giant circle and you would step inside the circle if you associated with a certain group,” Nicholson said. “If you were a Christian, you would step inside the circle, or if you were Muslim or Jewish [etc.]…that was pretty cool because I got to see how diverse our group was.”
Furthermore, student activities director Nick Pezzote stated that he hopes students will apply what they learned at IDEAS to WHS.
“We talked about ways we can utilize the information we learned, bring it here, and how it is applicable,” Pezzote said.
At the end of the conference, each school debriefed by themselves. Weston discussed ways to make WHS more accepting.
“We talked about what we could do as a school because we realize that Weston is a pretty white school. We wanted to get in more diversity. We wanted to tell teachers and students what they could do to help, so we came up with a mini action plan,” Nicholson said.
Likewise, Finard and the other seven students who took part in the conference are continuing to communicate ways to apply what they learned at the conference.
“It is going to have to be a collaborative effort from everyone. If change actually wants to be brought it can’t just be one student,” Finard said. “We are still thinking about different ways to interact with the student body and about bringing change on a bigger scale.”