Throughout the month of June, Windward acknowledged Pride Month, and the School engaged in deeper learning about the history of the LGBTQ+ community. Many students, teachers, staff members, and offices were involved with the planning of Pride activities, which included the following:
Middle school morning announcements and slide shows profiled various notable queer people and their backgrounds.
The libraries featured books that represent characters from the LGBTQ+ community and discuss themes of inclusion.
Teachers facilitated an optional lunch-and-learn series with middle school students.
The HR Office sponsored a rainbow cookie treat for all divisions.
Faculty and staff participated in a dress-down day.
Students made decorations and flyers around the campuses that explained important milestones in LGBTQ+ history, the evolution of the Pride flag, and the symbolism behind the Pride flag.
Manhattan Middle School Teacher Akriti Ahuja was one of the faculty members who helped coordinate the Pride Month Committee, comprising faculty and students, who spearheaded the initiatives within their division. “We had about 30-35 middle school students involved in the planning and decorating of the building, and there has been so much positive energy and excitement,” said Ms. Ahuja. “Our Pride Month Committee was a wonderful group of queer community members and allies who discussed their experiences and/or came to learn about the LGBTQ+ community.”
The work behind the various Pride Month initiatives was a collaboration between middle school students and their teachers. For example, all of the notable queer figures who were featured in June’s morning announcements were proposed by middle school students, and the write-ups were written by faculty and staff.
For the middle school lunch-and-learn series, students were invited by grade level to meet with teachers where they had conversations about queer representations in media (books, movies, and TV shows) and how depictions about the LGBTQ+ community have changed in recent years; music from queer artists; history and policy, such as the Stonewall uprising; and famous LGBTQ+ individuals. The lunches were open to all students and facilitated by Karen Jimenez, Shirley Hwang, Charlotte Van Voorhis, Julianna DiBattista, Ben Yassky, April Heck, and Ms. Ahuja.
“The enthusiasm demonstrated by the Manhattan Middle School students was wonderful to see, and they are already looking forward to next year,” said Ms. Ahuja.