Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiatives: February 2021

Throughout the month of February, the Greenwood community recognized Black History Month with many school-wide initiatives. 

On February 2, the Greenwood community attended a special presentation by the AGO’s Lauren Springs and Quentin VerCetty on Art and the African Diaspora. Lauren and Quentin showed four of their favourite pieces of art and discussed the history of the artists and the meaning behind each piece of work.⁠⁠ Following the presentation, students participated in a debrief discussion about what they learned. They also wrote in a Padlet titled “I am From” sharing the city where they were born and where their ancestors came from.

Our Diversity Committee put together a resource guide full of books, Black-owned businesses, movies and more that helped students set Black History Month learning intentions. They shared what they learned and submitted their experiences in a Google Form. By submitting evidence of their learning experience, they also had a chance to win an opportunity to support a local Black-owned business called A Different Booklist.

Every morning for the month of February, our morning announcements highlighted an influential Black individual or group. The students making each announcement summarized the individual or group's lasting impact.⁠ On February 17, an insight series commenced during the announcements in an effort to update and share with students the conversations and growth happening at Greenwood. Topics included: 
  • How are we building a more inclusive Greenwood? 
  • Pronouns and Coming Out 
  • Engaging External Supports
  • Land Acknowledgement
  • Student Leadership at Greenwood
On February 19, students took part in two special workshops in honour of Black History Month. ⁠⁠
Our Grade 7s and 8s were introduced to Marley Dias and #1000BlackGirlBooks. Marley loves to read and recognized that she was not represented in the books she read in school. She founded #1000BlackGirlBooks, which is a collection of thousands of stories featuring Black girls as the main characters. Marley donated these books to schools and in 2018, she published a book of her own titled Marley Dias Gets It Done: And So Can You! The 7s and 8s talked about why representation in books and the media matters and why Marley’s goals are important.⁠⁠
Our Grade 9-12 students analyzed Desmond Cole’s documentary The Skin We’re In. They watched the film to explore Black Canadian stories, identities, and experiences. They then participated in activities where they wrote down the importance of Desmond’s messages and their thoughts on how they felt throughout the film.

On February 19, a dozen students also attended the You Belong Summit hosted by Bishop Strachan School. The goal of this summit was to create an environment for discussion and collaboration between students with broad perspectives from different schools. It allowed for a safe space for students to share with and learn from one another’s experiences, helping to create a stronger sense of allyship and interschool connections. Students built on their skills and were empowered to lead their respective schools towards becoming more inclusive and aware environments.
During Grade 7 PE on February 25, students celebrated Black History Month through dance. They participated in an Afro-fusion workshop hosted by Shakeil Rollock. Shakeil is a graduate from the School of Toronto Dance and has been fortunate to work within the Afro-Contemporary Diaspora with Esie Mensah (Esie Mensah Dance) and Lua Sheyenne (Lua Sheyenne Dance Company). ⁠⁠
Most recently, Shakeil has been working with Emilio Dosal (In the Heights) and Ebony Williams (Beyoncé) on a new Disney Plus project.⁠

Throughout Black History Month, there were many opportunities for Greenwood students to set individual learning intentions, and to take action on those intentions by engaging with school programming. Thank you to the Diversity Committee and everyone else involved for their efforts in making the month of February insightful, educational, and empowering.

Greenwood College School

443 Mount Pleasant Road
Toronto, ON M4S 2L8
Tel: 416 482 9811