Middle School Puts a Spotlight on Inclusion and Visibility

Eighth grade group organizes a creative Middle School advisory group exercise.
Feeling seen, included and valued is essential to building a strong community. This morning, Middle School students participated in a "deliberate avoidance" exercise during their advisory meetings to illustrate how easy it is for people—without even realizing it—to exclude others.

Using colored dots placed on their foreheads, students were asked to sort themselves into groups silently, and one or two students were deliberately left out of either color-based group. Afterward, the boys discussed the effects of group identification and the importance of inclusion. Boys were asked how it felt to be excluded from a group of friends based on the color of their dots or how it felt to not belong to any of the groups. 

The idea for the exercise was inspired by an eighth grade Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging group visit to the Prejudice Awareness Summit in October. During the trip, the boys met with students from around Virginia to discuss diversity and inclusion efforts, where they took part in a range of interactive workshops and conversations. 

Feeling energized, the group asked to share some of what they'd learned with their Middle School peers at StC. "You can learn from people and become more inclusive. You can even find new hobbies," said Vake, '27, a member of the DEIB group who attended the conference. 

The boys hoped that the deliberate avoidance exercise, which was held throughout the Middle School, would bring the idea of inclusion more sharply into focus and forge new relationships. "By getting to know each other better, we can build more friendships and more people will feel like they fit in," said Claiborne, '27, another eighth grader who took part in organizing the exercise. "Once we all get to know each other, we find out that we all have a lot in common."
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