Top Row (L to R): Sarah Wright, Fernando Prieto Lin ’21, Nico Watters (Grade 11), VJ Brown ’11. Second Row: Abby Alem (Grade 10), Ulisses Rico Moncada ’21, Anshu Bhatia ’06, Ana Yanez (Grade 10), Sara Musani ’21. Third Row: Mackenzie Wagner ’21, Tuhin Sur (Grade 9), Brooklyn Batey ’12, Ulysses Estrada ’13
This month our Upper School students who are part of the Students of Racially Diverse Backgrounds Affinity Group had the opportunity to meet with our alumni of color to learn more about their experiences at Colorado Academy, the ways in which they navigate racial tension and microaggressions, and how they leveraged their Colorado Academy education in the world.
The meet-up, organized by Alumni Director Sue Burleigh and members of the Alumni Board, was a great exchange for both current students and alums. The students who attended shared how much they enjoyed the exchange and having the opportunity to learn from alums. The thing that made this partnership so valuable is that it was completely student-driven. The students expressed the need for affinity spaces after experiencing them in programs like the Student Diversity Leadership Conference and the ACLU. The partnership with the affinity group and alums is one we hope to expand in the coming year.
In the wake of the racial tension and civil unrest that has taken place, CA students have asked for a space for students of multicultural backgrounds to gather to share their unique experiences. There have been many studies regarding identity-based student groups, and the level of empowerment they can provide for students. With the help of Upper School student leaders, we were able to establish an affinity space for students of racially diverse backgrounds.
Identity-based student groups are not new to the Upper School. We currently have clubs like Gender Sexuality Alliance, Girl Up, the Southeast Asian Heritage Club, and the Interfaith Alliance Club. Historically, these clubs have been established as a source for allyship and educational spaces. Affinity spaces, though different from an allyship space, provide a safe space for students with a shared identity to engage in conversations and reflect on structures that push them against the margins. Being one of a few students of color at a predominantly white institution can feel isolating, and we want to have structures in place that can counter those experiences while we continue to build racial diversity in our school.