2020-21 Voices of Change Essay Series

community members activate advances in catlin gabel curriculum and culture

While diversity, equity, and inclusion work has been a growing priority for the school in recent years, community involvement has accelerated as well. Students, parents, teachers, staff, and alumni have stepped up and are helping drive our ongoing evolution by taking action. They’re forming affinity groups, partaking in conferences, initiating diversity-focused fundraising campaigns, collecting empirical data, and documenting their lived experiences. The following stories represent a small sampling of this involvement.

The First Step is Representation

By Mateo Sufuentes ’21, co-founder and co-leader of the Upper School students’ Hispanic Affinity Group

The main objective for this group is to give these students the majority experience.

There are not many Hispanic students at Catlin, and in our conversations, in our activities, we want to highlight how diverse the Hispanic community is. You have people of every skin color, of every origin, tons of countries represented. Each one is unique. The Hispanic community embodies diversity.

It’s similar for most racial or ethnic or religious minorities at Catlin that they wish they could have the majority experience all the time like they could have at a public high school or in their neighborhoods. For me, the first step is representation, and that’s what the Hispanic Affinity Group is trying to do.

I think that change can come about in two MAIN WAYS: by improving inclusivity and by improving diversity. The first we accomplish by including everyone in the school wide culture, curriculum, issues, you name it. And that means everybody present of every race, religion, etc. represented. Diversity, on the other hand stems from the voices present in the community. You can have a super-inclusive institution within its walls, but if you want diversity, that is a whole different issue. The only way Catlin becomes more diverse is by reevaluating how to offer the same quality of an education for less or offer more financial aid. That is what will bring a more diverse student body. 

I think that the Catlin community should be proud of the changes that we're making—with the Anti-Racism Collective, with Catlin’s response to the Black Lives Matter movement, and with teachers such as Krystal Wu, who’s doing great work modifying and analyzing the curriculum so that we really see how inclusive we're being. The fact that we’re making this effort is something to be proud of. And I am proud, but not satisfied. We are moving in the right direction, but these are only preliminary steps. There is still a lot to accomplish.