Dear Members of the LS Community,

It was quiet in the building as staff and students bore down on final academic tasks before commencement of December break. The quiet doesn’t at all accurately belie all that is happening around us. There has been a flurry of college acceptances, athletic events, and musical concerts! The moment of winter solstice came and passed at 11:28 am today. 2017 is rushing towards its end! There is so much happening in the present we can lose sight of where we’ve been and where we want to be.

Earlier this month I wrote you about the use of the N-word in school by one of our school administrators in a conversation with students. Although the conversation was about the need to better educate our community about the use of the word, expressing the word in that discussion was a mistake. Apologies were made and I have shared what happened with all of you.

I am writing to let you know we have not concluded on this topic, that our discussions have in fact broadened to include greater participation among our students, staff and parent/guardians. How we educate our students is complicated by the diversity of the world in which we are a part. There is absolutely no choice but to embrace this challenge as educators of future world citizens. We must understand our history to inform us but not let it define how we should best live and learn in the present in order to be best prepared for how we want to live in the future.

Words, such as the N-word, and other racist, ethnic, homophobic, xenophobic, and/or misogynistic terms, have tremendous power to hurt and impede one’s frame of mind to learn. Despite efforts to teach otherwise many of our students continue to experience micro aggressions in school that include targeted and/or non-targeted use of hateful expressions. There is no room for this behavior in a community that aspires to be a place where everyone belongs and asserts to provide an excellent education for all of our students.

To be clear, these words should never be used to target another person on campus.

These words should never be depicted, written, broadcast or otherwise displayed at any school events (including pre-game/pre-event music).

Without a doubt to improve our racial climate, more needs to be done. I am deeply appreciative of how many of you have reached out to offer support, ideas and advice. I am heartened by a willingness to engage in difficult conversations that challenge our perspectives of one another, of our comfort zones. It is only in this way we can restore relationships, re-build trust, and allow for forgiveness.

This is not work that can be done successfully in silos but must be shared and done all together as a community. To better coordinate our efforts among ourselves and with our broader communities, we will form a Racial Climate Task Force. Its purpose will be to focus our collective efforts to improve our school’s racial climate. More details will be forthcoming in the new year.

Best regards for the close of 2017!

Bella Wong