Make Y(our) Mark
With a new year comes new goals and initiatives. Piggy backing off the great work that the office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) did last year, the school is making an even higher commitment to student and adult education around cultural competency.
This year there will be dedicated time every Friday for skill building at developmentally appropriate levels around cultural competence. The theme of the year is “Make Y(our) Mark: Knowledge, Volition, and Action”. The heart behind this year’s theme is understanding how each person’s identities are rich and complex and are both influenced by and have influence over their community.
Every Friday there will be space for affinity groups, guest speakers, and community engagement discussions in homerooms. As you walk into the Campus Center you will see paintings that represent just a few of the affinity groups available to students. Last year, students had the chance to design their own logo for their groups. You can look for more groups to add their painting to the wall as the year goes on.
Affinity spaces have been around Overlake for five years now ever since the Black Student Union was created, and have only grown in number in recent years at student’s request. This week, during DEI Fridays, students learned more about what an affinity group is and how it differs from an interest or ally group. While the distinction might be a little confusing at first, Mahtab Mahmoodzadeh, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion said it best when she described the role of an affinity group. “Our community is like an orchestra. We create beautiful music together and not one instrument is more important than the other. Sometimes different parts of the orchestra go practice together but the ultimate goal is to come back together and be in relationship with each other.”
This year, the Board of Trustees approved a new strategic plan that weaves DEI work into each pillar of the plan. “Equity and Inclusion is a value of the institution, it happens throughout the life of the school, and everything we do in our strategic work is in service of our students,” Mahmoodzadeh said. The goal is to graduate culturally competent students who will have tools in their tool belt to learn, work, and grow with the people they will interact with beyond the nest of Overlake.
Students interested in joining an affinity group should sign up by September 22 and can do so here.