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2012 Spring Middle & High School Conferences

Conference Overview

Approximately 250 students from twelve area middle schools and eleven area high schools gathered at Grand Valley State University on April 30 and May 01, respectively. This year marked the 17th annual conference for the middle school program and the 6th annual conference for the high school program.

During the morning session, each school group shared what their group had discussed, learned, and accomplished during the school year. Examples from the schools included:

Harbor Lights and Macatawa Bay Middle Schools created a video (right) that explores how racism affects everyone.

· Holland Christian High School invited Robert Upton, author of Racism @Work Among the Lord's People to speak to the entire school during their Chapel session. He spoke about how racism includes the element of power - the ability to make decisions that impact someone's life.
watch video... (skip to about halfway)

· Steele Middle School
created skits with puppets to demonstrate similarities and differences between people.

· West Ottawa High School
shared a few facts their group discovered, most notably that "unconscious personal bias occurs, for example, when teachers have low expectations of black or Latino students," and "if, as a nation, we develop communities in which people can speak honestly and productively about racism and heal from its hurts, we can change biased practices and attitudes."

Students then watched several performances by Grand Valley State University's Act on Racism group. Act on Racism is a student-oriented group led by Dr. Jennifer Stewart that tackles topics like profiling, preferential treatment, and stereotypes, through a collection of vignettes, poetry readings, and unscripted skit performances. learn more...

Act on Racism members then led small-group discussions with Calling All Colors students, developed new skits of their own, and performed in front of the larger group.

In the afternoon, students enjoyed cooperative games and a cultural activity. On April 30, samba dancing was presented by dance instructor Alessandra Riquelme. On May 01, capoeira was presented by Grand Valley State University's branch of Capoeira Mandinga. learn more...

Special Thanks

Many gracious thanks to the conferences host: GVSU Office of Continuing Education

Emcee: Sally Woods
Welcoming Speakers: Jason Osborne, Program Adviser for Grand Valley State University's Disability Support Resources Department (April 30) and Shawn Watson, Director of Grand Valley State University's Muskegon Regional Center (May 01)

Participating Middle Schools: Black River, Corpus Christi Catholic, Delton Kellogg, Harbor Lights/Macatawa Bay, Holland High 8th, Holland Christian, Lakeshore, Jefferson, Steele, St. Mary's Catholic, and White Pines

Participating High Schools:
Black River, Central, Grand Haven, Holland Christian, Holland, Muskegon Community Education, South Haven, Spring Lake, West Ottawa, Zeeland East, Zeeland West