(portions published in the February 11, 2000 edition of The Eye)
February 4, 2000
There are little things that can warm the heart. This week, I saw for the first time the wonderful display outside the office of Ms. Deborah Anderson, the Plant Services Office Manager, and Mrs. Jacquelyn Lee-Ivey, the Director of Facilities and Events. This display features the contributions of African-Americans to American history. Ms. Anderson told me that their display was created to meet the needs of students disappointed in the absence of activities celebrating or even mentioning February as Black History Month. What better embodies our motto of Men, or rather People for Others than the acts of Ms. Anderson and Mrs. Lee-Ivey?
There are little things that can chill the heart. I know that there indeed are many teachers (too many to mention here, but I applaud you all) who plan lessons for Black History Month and that Mrs. Andrews puts up similar displays in the Library and features books by and about African-Americans. But there is little evidence that we, as a school community, recognize or participate in this national celebration. In recent years, we have gone from daily morning announcements and all school assemblies featuring speakers and performers in February to our current nearly silent state. Some students lamented the fact that while one or two teachers praised such activities or incorporated them into their classes, three or four would complain about their irrelevance or about how much time was lost to these assemblies and how far behind they were in covering the material in the curriculum.
Sometimes the words we never say speak louder than the words we shout. There are no classes here on Saint Patrick’s Day because it is feared that too many students will not attend. We are committed to making our faith, our Christianity, our Catholicism an explicit and tangible part of our school community. But where are the signs of our commitment to embracing diversity—beyond the basement and second floor of the Main Building?
Milton Alan Turner
Department of Modern Languages