Last year, our annual ME|WE conference for 7th grade students was one of the many events impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. While the Class of 2025 students weren’t able to experience the conference last year, the middle school team worked hard to bring the experience to life for them this year. This meant that there were not just one, but two ME|WE conferences this year for both grades 7 and 8—one in April and the other in May.
Both conferences centered around exploring diversity, equity, inclusivity, and social justice. From 9 am to 1:30 pm, students attended virtual workshops facilitated by community members—from near and far—on topics of interest, including:
Indigenous Ways of Land-Based Healing
The Gender Unicorn
Origins: Race, Class, and the Environment
Helping Yourself and Others in Stressful Times
Black Lives Matter
Portrayals of Asian-Americans
Expert facilitators were selected to represent diverse identities and organizations and to present challenging topics in an accessible and engaging setting. Mr. Etigson, middle school dean of students, explained, "Doing the conferences virtually this year allowed us to bring in speakers from all over. For example, Tamisha Williams, our former DEI director, presented at both conferences from Virginia. Many students this year appreciated the bedrock of the experience and engaged in a rich array of choices on topics around equity and inclusion.” The ME|WE Conference has been successful due to the generous sharing of experiences from Bosque School’s community partners, students, and faculty.
7th grader, Em, expressed, “I went to Origins: Race, Class, and the Environment, and I thought the way he [Mr. Knox] taught it was approachable, and you could ask questions. He really did well making it a comfortable environment.”
ME|WE is part of Bosque School's commitment to social justice and continually improving the social development of the 6th-12th grade experience. It is an integral part of our 7th and 8th grade curriculum, and our WILLDS programming. Throughout the conference, students approached issues of interpersonal relationships, identity formation, and who we are as individuals as well as who we are within the Bosque School community and in a global context that is relevant for the 21st century. "For me, it's important that they gain broader perspectives about the world, which I think helps them become more empathetic human beings and go make positive changes in the world,” said Ms. O’Hanlon, middle school division head.
The purpose of this conference is for students to develop a better sense of self, acceptance, understanding, and most importantly, respect for others. We look forward to continuing this annual conference in the years to come.