A Community of Inclusion at Providence Catholic
These times call for every Catholic individual and institution to take inventory, to assess where it stands on the blessing of diversity and the sin of racism. The Family of Providence Catholic High School embraces the opportunity to share its journey. These reflections are offered, not as a celebration of what has been accomplished, but as the foundation of necessary work to come.
Below are some of the primary ways we have worked to create an environment that welcomes diversity and inclusion. We know there is still work to be done, including an assessment of how the curriculum confronts racism, and the development of an outreach to past graduates who have been wounded by an experience of racism at Providence Catholic.
Our Commitment (Updated June 2020)
In 2015, members of the Providence Catholic administration, faculty and staff formed a committee to explore our Diversity and Inclusion efforts. As a result, in 2016, we partnered with Mr. Troy Cicero of MulticultuREAL (read more about this program), who conducted a Cultural Assessment and Report. Over the next four years:
- We participated in a Cultural Audit through focus groups of faculty, staff, students, parents and alumni. A report of recommendations was issued.
- The administration was interviewed and was the recipient of the Cultural Audit report.
- A Diversity Club was established in 2017; it has developed into the IALAC 2.0 organization.
- A Diversity & Inclusion Committee of faculty, staff, students and parents was formed (2015 – 2019).
- A program entitled Opening Minds, Breaking Barriers and Building Community was launched.
- Administrators, faculty and staff participated in a Diversity and Inclusion training session.
- Administrators, faculty and staff then had a follow-up Accountability and Action Training Session.
- Two All-School assemblies were held (presentations on both Diversity and Inclusion and Accountability and Action).
- Every subsequent freshman class is introduced to the Opening Minds program through a class assembly on both topics listed previously. Small group sessions were held as a follow-up for the freshman class (this was not completed for the 2019-2020 school year).
- A Diversity and Inclusion Awareness Training Session was held for the coaches at PCHS.
In 2018, Providence Catholic brought in the Anti-Defamation League to train 32 students as Peer Leaders to promote a community of acceptance and inclusion. Since then, we have trained 18 additional students to replace the seniors who have graduated. These students serve as the nucleus of the IALAC 2.0 organization, whose purpose is to promote Inclusion, Awareness, Leadership, Acceptance, and Community among the student body. IALAC 2.0 builds on the original IALAC program (I Am Lovable And Capable) used during the New Celtic Welcome retreat.
IALAC 2.0 implemented the following experiences:
- Introduced to the school via an All-School Prayer
- Led small group activities addressing concepts of individuality and self-reflection during an adjusted lunch/Celtic Time schedule. (April, 2019)
- Conducted the “Lemon Exercise” on generalizations and stereotypes during Celtic Time (October 2019)
- Senior leaders of IALAC 2.0 led the “Value Line” in small groups, identifying student values and the effect of culture (All-School Retreat, February of 2020)
- Utilized Celtic Time to follow-up on the “Lemon Exercise” and the “Value Line” (March, 2020)
- We plan to further student training by attending a TALK (Teens Activating the Language of Kindness) Day training program offered through Oswego High School
There are many other avenues used to promote a welcoming environment for diversity and inclusion.
- The New Celtic Welcome retreat for incoming freshmen and transfer students introduces and emphasizes IALAC.
- The Theology curriculum focuses on a consistent message across all classes on the dignity of the human person made in the image and likeness of God. It specifically includes a component of the Church’s teaching on Social Justice, as well as a Moral Theology course that affirms the Church’s condemnation of racism.
- We have implemented Juvenile Justice Online as part of the disciplinary response which seeks to rehabilitate rather than expel students for inappropriate behavior.
- The Pastoral Department uses various avenues to reinforce the message of diversity and inclusivity (Daily All-School Prayer, Monthly All-School liturgies, The Student Augustinian Values experience, the Kairos retreat and the All-School retreat program which includes a component of IALAC 2.0, etc.).
- The Dean’s Office works together with the Pastoral and Counseling Departments to address student behaviors such as bullying and racism (through intervention, Juvenile Justice Online and peer mediation).
- Students from IALAC 2.0 have made a presentation to the faculty and staff, sharing their experiences of insensitivity, bias, prejudice and racism.
As we move forward, it is essential that we engage the larger Providence Family by inviting them to share their stories and ideas. In this way we work together to build something greater, together.
Let us be energized by the words of St. Augustine:
“Make progress, my friends, examine yourselves honestly again and again. Put yourself to the test. Do not be content with what you are, if you want to become what you are not yet. For where you have grown pleased with yourself, there you will remain… Always add something more, keep moving forward, always make progress.”
St. Augustine of Hippo
Sermon 169, 15,18