Recently, it’s felt like everything—the world, the nation and our community—has been falling apart. Social issues and personal ideals have caused multiple divides worldwide. In our district, these issues have been addressed in the form of the ONE COMMUNITY Conference.
It is incredibly important, at such divisive times as these, to eliminate all of the phobias; homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia and any other term that applies to people who are afraid of anybody who’s different because they’re afraid of change. To fix these issues, there must be education. The conference was held on Feb. 3 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Orange High School.
“The purpose of the conference is to bring together students, staff and families for conversations and learning experiences around diverse topics,” Curriculum Supervisor Jackie Powers said.
This was the fourth annual ONE COMMUNITY Conference in the district. “We decided to start the conference as an opportunity to learn about ourselves, to listen to each other through cross-district dialogue, and to think about how we can support all students in our Olentangy community,” Powers said.
A total of 30 workshops were be offered. There were be a variety of subjects covered, such as sexuality, gender equality, culture and mental illness. The workshops are either offered to all attendees or specific age groups, such as to elementary school kids.
Also at the conference was a Global Scholars Level 3 project and art display from students at both Orange and Berkshire. This was yet another way for students from all schools to have a voice and influence the mindsets in the district.
The conference took place in February, which was a perfect way to start off Black History Month and start a conversation about acceptance. Students and staff were featured as speakers to share their own experiences with hate, and how to grow from those experiences. These presenters came from all high schools with diverse backgrounds and speeches. The keynote speaker was former NFL player William White, who shared with the audience how to work as a team.
“Over the past 10 years, Olentangy has continued to beautifully diversify and we are lucky to serve students and families from many parts of the world—this is one opportunity to learn with each other,” Powers said.
This conference was an opportunity for our community to change and learn from the mistakes we have made in the past. Even if attendees feel as if these challenges have not affected them, they were equipped with the knowledge needed to recognize inequality and injustice in the future. The conference allowed love and acceptance to be spread at the school, district and state levels, and this love will be further enabled in the future ONE COMMUNITY Conferences to come.