Loading

Boston College High School 2021 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Progress Report

We are pleased to share with you a progress report on our commitment to becoming a more anti-racist, culturally aware, school community. This work does not happen overnight and we appreciate your patience as we focus our efforts internally within our school community. We will continue to keep you updated on our progress as new milestones are reached. We’d like to thank the Board of Trustees for their support, both spiritually and financially, to do this important work. Our faculty and staff have worked hard to ensure our students have the resources and support they need. A special thank you is in order to our students for sharing their stories through their lived experiences which is critical to becoming a better school.

Update: The most recent June 2021 update on the ongoing status of our work from Ruth Evee P'18, '22, Director of Equity and Inclusion, Diversity Committee Member, and Diversity Cabinet Members can be found at the bottom of this page.

DEI Reaffirmed as Presidential and Institutional Priority

In response to the urgency and importance of dignity and justice for all people, and our commitment to human excellence in living out our Jesuit ideals, in June 2020 BC High’s Board of Trustees and President Grace Cotter Regan P'12 approved the following goal as a Faith and Justice Presidential Priority for Fiscal Year 2021:

To develop and implement a DEI plan to respond to the complaints from students of color that have recently surfaced as well as to make the necessary changes to the culture and structures of the institution to make it a more just and welcome place for all people and build an anti-racism culture, in keeping with its Jesuit mission.

DEI Mission Statement Created and Approved by Board of Trustees

The Director of DEI, in collaboration with the Diversity Committee, created the following mission statement which was submitted to the President and Principal, and presented to the Board of Trustees in June, 2020. The Board approved the following statement at the October Board meeting:

Human Diversity is a gift that BC High strives to promote, affirm, and celebrate. As a Jesuit, Catholic school, we commit to justice, equity, and inclusion because they are essential to meaningful learning, personal growth, and loving relationships.

Board of Trustees Commitment to Diversity

In 2019, the Governance Committee of the Board announced a commitment to diversify the composition of the Board to reflect the diversity of our students, alumni, and parent communities. Since then, twelve new Trustees have been appointed, resulting in the most diverse Board in BC High’s history. The Board will continue to explore and fulfill underrepresented voices at the table.

The Board of Trustees hired an independent third party review team from the law firm of Latham & Watkins, LLP in the summer of 2020. William Trach, Esq and his team have met with alumni, board members, parents, students, faculty and staff since the summer of 2020. The Board has used this fact gathering and review to help BC High move forward by creating a more just and inclusive environment at the school. The Latham & Watkins team has finished their review, and the Board met in April 2021 to discuss findings before following up with the BC High community. The full report can be found on our website.

Open Forums and Roundtables Hosted

The President and Principal, in collaboration with the Director of DEI and Parent Council, hosted three major virtual open forums for our parent and alumni communities in June, July and January to discuss BC High’s culture and progress in implementing anti-racism initiatives. In addition, many small roundtable discussions were held with students, alumni and parents in the summer and fall of 2020 to listen and collect feedback in more depth. Many of the initiatives outlined in this report were influenced by these discussions, which will be ongoing.

Additionally, the Diversity Cabinet organized a student-led Open Forum in December, with another in February, to begin sensitive dialogue among students. Click here to read more about the forum, as covered by Christopher Kerwin ‘22 for The Eagle newspaper.

Families have been engaged through The Eagle Update to take part in Our Journey, a compilation of recommendations to fuel the growth of our work around DEI, which must be done as a community.

Director, DEI Reporting Structure Changed

To better reflect the School’s institutional commitment, the reporting structure of the Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion was elevated as of July 1, 2020. This role now reports directly to the President and Principal.

Institutional DEI Roadmap Created

In collaboration with the President and Principal, the Director of DEI outlined the following initiatives and goals for Fiscal Year 2021. This plan was presented to the Board of Trustees in October 2020.

Community-wide Racial Equity Systemic Transformation – Courageous Conversation ™

BC High has embarked on an ambitious multi-year partnership to foster continuous and sustainable culture change. Facilitated by Pacific Education Group, Courageous Conversation™ is the award-winning protocol for effectively engaging, sustaining, and deepening interracial dialogue. This effort requires a serious and substantive investment in time and resources, reflective of BC High’s commitment to racial equity and justice.

The program continues to engage all BC High constituencies, providing a framework to “transform beliefs, behaviors, and results so people of all races can achieve at their highest levels and live their most empowered and powerful lives.” Launching in September, 2020, the initial phase of this work has engaged School leaders in a series of 10 in-depth workshops to learn and prepare to teach and sustain the Courageous Conversation ™ protocol within the community. During the Spring semester, the program expanded to include the Board of Trustees, all faculty and staff, students, families and alumni, and will continue for a minimum of two years but could extend further.

DEI Professional Development for Faculty and Staff

As a collaborative effort between the Office of Professional Development and the Center for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, BC High has created a robust slate of development opportunities for our faculty and staff, as well as student engagement opportunities:

Joan Melville Institute August 3-14, 2020 - The Melville Institute is a prestigious annual K-12 curriculum development intensive for BC High faculty, and is also open to other select faculty from area Catholic schools. The 2020 Institute was devoted to student mental health and anti-racism curriculum.

National Anti-Racism Teen Experience August 7, 2020 - President Regan and Principal Lewis collaborated with the organizers of the Teach-In to create the first student seminar as part of the Teach-In program. The Teen Experience was open to BC High students and high school students from the Boston region.

National Anti-Racism Teach-In August 10-12, 2020 - For the second year, BC High hosted this national, high-visibility virtual conference for educators founded by Jack Hill, a nationally recognized diversity consultant, facilitator, educator, writer and child advocate. More than 1,000 teachers from around the country participated with scholars and thought leaders including Professor Ibram X. Kendi, Dr. Bettina Love, Joy DeGruy, and Howard Stevenson.

Implicit Bias and Cultural Competence training September 2020 - All faculty and staff participated in a day-long anti-bias training workshop, discussing broad based issues around equity including race, LGBTQ, and gender.

NAIS People of Color Conference

AISNE Anti-Racism Conference

AISNE Heads and DEI Cohorts

Ongoing DEI Book Discussion Groups for Faculty & Staff

Educational Program

We have also made some significant shifts in terms of our anti-racist work in the educational program, inside and outside the classroom. As with any culture shift, it is important that it is driven from the inside out and owned by all members of the community, particularly our students.

Student leaders of the Black and Latino Student Union (BLSU), with the support of school leadership, have been instrumental in bringing the conversation about race to the forefront of the collective community consciousness. Their initiatives have included the creation of the Sharing Our Story concept, where students across the school have the opportunity to share their individual story with the student body. The idea is that our individual stories form our collective story as a community and that an appreciation and understanding of the individual context of others will build a more inclusive and loving community.

This group of students have also led a student open forum on race and presented to the Human Excellence sub-committee of the Board of Trustees and to the full board itself on their experience as students of color at BC High. Additionally, they developed and delivered an outstanding Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Service for our community:

In the classroom, our faculty have committed to engaging with students about the turbulent times in which we live, acknowledging that our current context is unsettling for all, but particularly for our young men as they attempt to make sense of their world. These are not always easy conversations, but as a Jesuit school they are necessary and are always centered on human dignity and respect.

In summer 2020, with oversight from our academic leadership team, the school funded significant grants for teachers in every department to write curriculum revision proposals, toward the aim of diversifying our classroom instruction and updating understandings of cultural competence. Specific curriculum changes in Social Studies, English, and Religious Education, as an example, have built further on previous excellent work committed to ensuring that our curriculum and pedagogy is representative and inclusive. Required professional development (offered from July-September) called the “BC High Playlist” included a course written by BC High school leaders called “Anti-Racist Self Assessment,” which helped teachers improve practice toward becoming more mindfully anti-racist. The course included recently released research and incorporated the relevance of Ignatian values.

As always, any changes in the educational program are aimed towards creating a more loving and just community that places itself in the margins, inside and outside the physical walls of our school - that models itself on Christ.

June 2021 Update

I greet you from the office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). What an academic year we have had, wedged between two public health crises, COVID-19 and racism. Recent acts of racism heightened our curiosity to learn, ignited our awareness of unfair mistreatment towards marginalized groups, and increased our sense of urgency to act. We engaged our students in conversations regarding race and how it affects us all. Although the protests have simmered and national coverage has decreased, it is our Jesuit duty to not lose vision and to continue exciting our students on social justice topics and combating systemic racism. We must continue our journey to being an antiracist community while supporting those that are most often discriminated against. We have a responsibility to help young people understand the past and present, good or bad, so that they can create a future that doesn’t continue to carry the same elements of hate and ignorance.

As we know, DEI efforts were present in each area of the school and continue to be a big part of our daily agenda. The following are highlights I would like to share to not boast or give a sense of completion, but to motivate us in our journey towards a new normal.

Diversity Committee was hard at work this year, volunteering their time by giving three topics of concern focused attention to help our community continue to grow: formalizing funds for students in need beyond tuition, hiring and retaining faculty and staff of color, and creating a required DEI training for all newcomers to the school. This group remains passionate about institutional change and continues to be committed to these topics. Diversity Committee collaborated with HR and Advancement to share creative ideas and best practices; improving and creating programs and initiatives to support these important topics. While progress has been made in these three areas of concern, the hard work is ongoing and will continue into the upcoming year.

Accomplished goals from Diversity Committee’s work in 2020 spilled over to include the approval of the Diversity Statement by the Board and introducing it to the entire community. Now it is everyone’s duty to embed it in our learning and adopt it as part of our identity. Plans for public display are underway so the statement is a visible reminder to all. Also, the BC High website will highlight our commitment to DEI with a page dedicated to our ongoing efforts and beliefs. This page is very near launch and will be updated periodically with all the up-to-date happenings and resources.

Academics

In addition to the constant reviewing and rewriting of departmental curriculum, below are a few highlights this year:

English - As Department Chair, Mr. Charles Shaw led the English faculty in taking on the n*word. They created a department statement defining a unified stance on the use of the word in class and generated an extraordinary reading list with a diverse collection of voices for the summer requirements.

Religion – Freshmen worked on a lesson about images of Jesus. Students could bring in their own images from their house/family, but the lesson examined what the historical Jesus might have looked like as a Palestinian Jew.

A model of a Galilean man created in 2001 by forensic anthropologist Richard Neave for the BBC documentary, Son of God, working on the basis of an actual skull found in the region prompting people to consider Jesus as being a man of his time and place.

Social Studies – In addition to extensive work done to the overall curriculum, faculty designed and are launching a course on the American Civil Rights movement.

Science – Visual displays highlighted the impact of scientists from many ethnic backgrounds. Dr. Brian Sears and the Lab Rats Chemistry Club won the door décor DEI initiative by designing a fabulous display of diversity in science. Ms. Maggie Ruddy assembled a beautiful gallery honoring chemists of color.

Modern LanguageMadame Shannon Atkeson did great work in a French cinema course this year exploring Black Lives Matter in the United States and France, comparing and contrasting the response in each country to different incidents of police brutality.

ClassicsMr. Emil Peñarubia recruited a phenomenal woman of color to teach in the Classics Department.

Arrupe Division –Students assembled insightful documentaries on Influential Black Pioneers assigned by Ms. Keren Greene, Mr. James Houser, and Ms. Jennifer Piedade and formally presented their work in the Bulger Performing Arts Center.

• Speaker Michael Curry, Esq. joined us in his presentation of Quantum Leap, teaching us Black History as all our history. The 2.5 hours recording is accessible for all teachers to use in their classrooms.

Student Leadership

• Diversity Cabinet received overwhelming positive feedback regarding the open forums they hosted for students to express their concerns and be heard by the community. They are looking to continue these in the future and hope to offer more opportunities for interested students to participate.

• The Black and Latino Student Union (BLSU) met the challenge of the MLK Prayer Service being virtual. They took charge more than ever, selecting the program content and alumni speakers. BLSU will continue to meet and welcome visitors to hear their concerns and share in open dialogue.

• With the guidance of Trustees Fritz Friedman '68 and Brian Lee '02 the Asian Culture Club changed to a more fitting name of Asian American Pacific Islander Collaborative continue to be a very active co-curricular on campus.

• Catholic Gay-Straight Organization (CGSO) and Hispanic Latino Association (HLA) continued their planning of events and cultural awareness for the community.

• All Affinity groups continue to provide a safe space for students to celebrate and have open discussions regarding their inclusion at the school.

• A Survey was given to the Class of 2021 focusing primarily on DEI during their time at BC High and received responses from 206 participants.

Community

• Acknowledgement and ownership of our history, namely experiences shared on the Black@BCH Instagram and involvement in the slave trade among our Founding Fathers. This history has been incorporated into social teachings for our freshmen, the base for moments of reflection and sharing stories, and discussions on compassion and how to love one another.

• Participation in our first all faculty/staff DEI extensive training with Courageous Conversations. We leaned in and accepted that after mastering our listening skills, internal work was in order. We took a deep dive into what DEI meant for us individually, and how race has affected our lives and daily interactions.

• Took the next step in prioritizing DEI work by designating three faculty and staff members as DEI Practitioner Leaders: Ms. Lizzy Corsetti (faculty development), Ms. Katie McKiernan (curriculum and resources), and Mr. Terrell Diggs (student support). These leaders will lead us in next steps of embedding this work deep in our daily norms.

At the year-end faculty-staff retreat, the newly-assembled DEI team was honored. Here they are in the Center for DEI's new home in McQuillan Hall. (L-R) Principal Adam Lewis, Ruth Evee P’18, ’22, Katie McKiernan, Lizzy Corsetti, Terrell Diggs.

• Families were invited to engage through six segments of Our Journey featured in the Eagle Update. Various topics and resources were supplied to readers to continue the conversations at home and to learn more about DEI issues and perspectives. This will continue with an accessible resource board.

•The NAIS People of Color Conference (PoCC), flagship of the National Association of Independent Schools' commitment to equity and justice in teaching, learning, and organizational development, was once again attended and beloved by 11 faculty and staff members, although it brought a virtual experience this year. BC High attempted to include the student experience of SDLC but were not selected in the lottery. Plans continue to try again next year.

• Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) certification was completed by the Director of Equity and Inclusion (Ruth Evee) and will be used as an assessment tool to help people think deeper into our differences, beyond race and into culture. The Administrative team began their engagement by taking the assessment and receiving a team debrief by guess speaker Ben Krauss. Individual debriefs will be conducted by Ruth on a one-on-one basis.

• Year-end 2021 Race/Ethnicity Diversity statistics: Students of color make up 26% of the student population including grades 7-12. Board, Admin., Faculty/Staff of color make up 12.77% of the adult population. Further breakdown of AHANA is available upon request.

DEI success takes the entire community and come this Fall semester we will continue to create opportunities for every desired member to join us at the table to continue this timeless work in progress. Our focus will continue with all pillars of Diversity (race, culture, age, sex/gender, religion, sexual orientation, disability, socio-economic status) in our community and welcome a diverse body of reflective voices. We anticipate and appreciate continued support from our administration and Board of Trustees to prioritize this important piece of our mission so designed by our founding Jesuits seeking equal access for those facing discrimination. Thank you all for your attention and continued support.