Reflections of a Journey
Shannon Cameron, 5th & 6th Grade Language Arts Teacher & 6th Grade Advisor

At St. Anne’s, our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) work is paramount, and our school’s mission of fostering student potential for good cannot exist without DEI’s universal values of truth, fairness, justice, and equality. For our students to function as local and global citizens, it is essential that they understand how to promote acceptance, love others, challenge biases, and inspire others to find honor in how we treat each other. 

In December, I had the honor of traveling to Seattle, Washington with several colleagues to attend the 32nd NAIS People of Color Conference. Both a personal and professional journey, those few days stretched, confounded, and challenged me in ways that I find hard to put into words. There are vast perspectives to be shared with regard to issues of racism, bias, and equity.  I’m proud to be a member of a community that embraces the conversation and places value in this work.

During the conference, several attendees visited the Seattle School for Girls whose anti-bias and identity curriculum is a beacon of leadership for schools focusing on cultural competency. Throughout the day, we visited classrooms, conferred with school leadership, and attended a student-led discussion panel. When asked why the exploration of identity was so important for middle schoolers, a seventh-grade student replied, “I need to be solid in my shoes before I can confront assumptions.” I kept her words in mind as I attended sessions ranging from equitable grading practices to focused inquiry into student/teacher relationships to curriculum practices that instill empathy while avoiding emotional manipulation. The conference renewed my vigor for self-reflection and improvement as I strive to be a stronger ally for my students and my colleagues. 

Throughout St. Anne’s Middle School, students are learning to grapple with tension, listen to different perspectives, and facilitate conversations that model respect and active listening. Students are stretched through the study of diverse literature, culture, and historical constructs. Through this tension and its uncertainty, we are teaching our students to know, to love, to challenge, and to inspire others. Valarie Kaur, an American civil rights activist and founder of the Revolutionary Love Project, discusses the ethic of love in terms of being willing to step into labor for others. She encourages us to see no strangers and to greet another with the sentiment that “You are a part of me I do not know yet.” Certainly, we strive to greet all members of our St. Anne’s community with open arms, seeking to understand, and inviting all on a journey of learning. As St. Anne’s educators, it is our calling to expand the vision of our students so there is room for all, and we work to be aware of whose stories might be absent in our classrooms and curriculum. We ask: whose truth is being told, and by whom? As a result, whose truth is being revised or forgotten? 

Confronting inequities in relationships and communities is unsettling work. At St. Anne’s, we are leaning into these difficulties, seeking to be more aware of where additional DEI work is needed and are supported by eager colleagues, parents, and community members. We are building knowledge and skills in our community through professional development and student workshops. Last fall, our entire faculty attended the ADVIS Cultural Competency Institute and our entire sixth grade, along with members of our Student Diversity Council, will be attending The 2020 Middle School Student Diversity Leadership UnConference in late January. Our mission to explore issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion to meet the needs of all community constituents is omnipresent. Building a more tolerant society by teaching our students to be disruptors of bias and inequity is the St. Anne’s way, woven tightly into our school’s identity of growing in wisdom and love. We strive to be solid in our shoes as we remain centered in dignity, confronting assumptions for ourselves and others. 

Fantasy Geopolitics: The Potential For Good as Citizens of Local and World Communities
Renee Chaudoin

By Ryan Brown, 7th & 8th-Grade Social Studies,

8th-Grade Religion and Advisor

One of the parts of our school  mission at St. Anne’s that I have always felt was extremely important is that we are striving to help our students grow to “realize their potential for good as citizens of local and world communities.”  However, before they can begin shaping the world, they need to have a better sense of awareness and understanding of global affairs. 

With over 190 countries in our world today, one of the unique challenges that I find myself facing as a social studies teacher is finding ways to highlight as many of these countries as possible throughout the school year. Thankfully,  a few years back I was made aware of a website called FANschool.org. This website, which was originally created by a high school social studies teacher, contains games designed to help students engage with world news and build global competence. I knew immediately that I had to find a way to implement one of their games, Fantasy Geopolitics, within my eighth-grade World Cultures and Geography classes. Fantasy Geopolitics operates like fantasy football, which has become increasingly popular throughout the United States. Rather than selecting players and earning points based on athletic performance, in Fantasy Geopolitics players draft countries throughout the world based on the frequency and ways in which those countries are involved in current events. Ultimately student-players want to construct a team of countries that will earn the most points based upon a combination of two metrics. First, countries gain points automatically each time they are mentioned in New York Times articles over a specified period of time. Second, the scoring system adds and subtracts points based upon a “TONE” scale, which is a reflection of the types of news that are occurring in the country. Positive events, such as peace treaties, earn bonus points for a country, and negative events, such as human rights violations, lose points for a county.

I have been using this game over the course of the last five years, adjusting the requirements and types of additional assignments that coincide with it. This year, each student was required to draft at least one country from each different level of development within the United Nations’ Human Development Index (HDI).  As a teacher, I find the enthusiasm and the level of effort that the eighth graders have been putting into our game this year to be inspiring. On an almost daily basis, I see students taking a few minutes to check scores and look into trends, trying to explore options to add and/or drop countries to improve the overall performance of their teams. I have also seen the ways in which our eighth graders show their support for one another. While the game is technically a competition, the students have been great at keeping that competition friendly, offering tips and making trades to help each other construct high-performing teams. One of my students reflected upon the game, stating “It is probably one of the best things I have done in any class and has made my learning of countries and current events very fun” (Andrew T.).  

More importantly, Fantasy Geopolitics has helped to spread awareness of global events in our classroom. During class discussions, students have shared news stories and information that they have learned in order to make connections with pieces of content. Studying global affairs has created a stronger sense of understanding of our world. For example, Andrew also added that it “has made us more appreciative of what we have.”  The current events have also brought to light questions with regard to differences throughout our world and the potential ways in which we can work together to tackle problems or acknowledge and address inequality. Alternative energy research and women’s rights in Saudi Arabia are two examples of topics that have been a part of our discussions so far this year. In a world that is increasingly becoming globally connected, the current eighth-grade students are using friendly competition to build their awareness of the complex ways in which the actions of one country can have widespread ramifications on other countries, and they are pondering the ways they can help shape the world community moving forward. 

For those who are interested, in addition to Fantasy Geopolitics, FANschool.org also offers additional games related to United States politics, Olympics season, and elections. These games are free to play at a base level, though some games require a paid membership for larger leagues. 

All School Out of Uniform - Friday, November 22nd
Middle school Student Council Executive Board

We are very excited to announce a dress down day tomorrow, Friday, November 22nd!

There is no specific theme for this dress down day. 

Guidelines for Dress Down Days

There will be a few out-of-dress code days scheduled throughout the year. There may be an announced theme for the style of dress.

  • Students must avoid designs of questionable taste, as well as torn, abused, or revealing items (cropped tops, spaghetti-straps or strapless tops). P.E. uniforms must be worn during P.E. class on out-of-dress code days.
  • Logos and some writing are allowed, as long as they are appropriate for school. 
  • Flip-flops are never permitted at school. 

Middle School Out-of Dress Code Days

  • Excessively tight pants or clothing of any type may not be worn.
  • Skirts or dress length should be no shorter than three inches above the top of the knee. 
  • Shorts should be no shorter than three inches above the top of the knee
  • Legging or legging-type pants may be worn if the accompanying top or skirt length is no shorter than three inches above the knee.
  • If a student is wearing attire that does not follow the above-stated guidelines, the student may be required (if they are unable to find attire in the school's clothes closet) to come to school in the dress code on the next scheduled dress down day.
Middle School Party: Friday, November 22nd
Renee Chaudoin

The first Middle School Party of the year will take place next Friday, November 22nd! The doors will open at 6:00 PM and the party will end at 9:00. The price of admission to the event is $5. Students who wish to bring guests must return completed guest forms by Thursday, November 21st (forms are available outside Mr. Brown's classroom). All guests must be in 5th-8th grade. Student Council will be providing beverages. There is no formal required dress code for the party. 

If there are any questions, please feel free to contact Mr. Brown!

Middle School Out of Uniform - Friday, November 22nd
Middle school Student Council Executive Board

Middle School Student Announcement

We are very excited to announce a dress down day for the Middle School next Friday, November 22nd! There is no specific theme for this dress down day.

Out of uniform day, guidelines are found on the St. Anne's website. If your student is unsure about whether or not they may wear something, they can ask Mr. Brown, Mrs. Reilly, or one of the Student Council Executive Board members.

Student Council Exec. Board