As you know, six upper school students joined us as we braved a cold and snowy Washington, D.C. last week for the annual Quaker Youth Leadership Conference at Sidwell Friends School. We joined 190 students and chaperones from Quaker schools up and down the east coast for a packed three days of workshops, presentations, activities, and exploring.
The theme for the conference was centered on responsible understanding and use of media (social media, news, etc). On Thursday evening we attended a presentation from John Biewen, creator of the podcast Seeing White. On Friday, we spent the day at the Newseum, where we toured exhibitions related to journalism and heard from a panel of current reporters and media professionals in areas of broadcast TV news, creative television, print media, and online blogging. We also heard presentations from a Newseum staff member about freedom of speech in schools, and from a representative from the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), a well-known Quaker lobbying organization, who advised students about how to get involved in advocacy efforts on the ground. After this, several of us joined up with participants from other schools to explore the National Portrait Gallery, where we were able to view the newly added Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald portraits of the Obamas. On Friday night, a few of our students contributed to the all-conference talent show, including Faith who performed her poem from the lightning poetry contest!
Saturday morning the students participated in a series of entirely student-run workshops covering a range of topics, from microaggression to gun violence in schools. We then ended with an all-conference Meeting for Worship (Silent Meeting) that asked students to reflect on their learning experience. A highlight from this time was a share from Rin, who expressed their gratitude for the welcoming nature of the QYLC community. Many of our students made connections with other students that seem likely to continue in the future, probably through multiple forms of media.
Thank you to everyone who provided support in organizing the trip. It was a worthwhile journey that already has students begging to return next year…
John Keenan and Zora Tucker
Upper School Teachers