Friendship and Inclusion
Recently, Rebecca Irvin Holbrook, LCHS class of ‘59 visited Lexington from Chicago. I had the honor of taking her to breakfast and listening to her story. She is the first African American female graduate of LCHS. She praised the quality of education she had received here, claiming that she was even better prepared for college at the University of Dayton than most of her peers. Nevertheless, her social experience at LCHS was, in her words, “deplorable.” The effects of the social isolation she experienced in the 1950s through high school remains with her today. I can only imagine the pain of not having a friend group, and being excluded from dances, parties and school trips. In her words it was “a miracle that she survived.” Hearing her story reminded me of the Catholic teaching to love and include everyone, especially the person who is different. The sting of exclusion is a lasting, sometimes irreparable hurt. When Ms. Holbrook graduated in ’59, she had no intention of ever coming back to Lexington Catholic. When we finished breakfast and I invited her to come to the school, however, she surprised me by accepting.
During her visit, she enjoyed meeting students and teachers as an honored guest. At some point it occurred to me that it had been SIXTY years since she had been in this building! She was radiant, connecting with members of the school and sharing her smile, her intellect, and her experience.
Our theme for 2019-20 is friends, where the “i” in friends stands for inclusion. I am so thankful for my new friend Rebecca Holbrook and her willingness to reconnect and help our community. Her experience gives evidence to the importance of our efforts for inclusion and gives motivation for the work we are doing this year. As we move forward with our Affinity Groups, we hope to provide a safe space for all students who might feel isolated. Currently we have LGBT+, Latinx and African American groups. I wish that in the 1950’s we had a group to provide community and support for Rebecca. We continue to work for greater fairness, inclusion and understanding amongst our staff and students in a variety of ways. One major way is through training.
At our opening Equity and Inclusion Training day in August we had workshops in the following areas led by 20+ staff members and 2 outside speakers:
- Some of the History Behind Inequity and Exclusion
- LGBT Voices (Alumni speak of the struggle against homophobia)
- A Word About Micro-Aggressions and Intent vs. Impact
- Panel Discussion - Understanding Some of the Unseen Issues of Students who have lost a parent, and students who have parents who are separated or divorced
- Gender Equity in the Workplace and Classroom
- Understanding the Black Lives Matter Movement
- Charlottesville, “Unite the Right” and the Alt-Right in the Classroom
- Equity and Inclusion in Coaching Panel Discussion
- Considerations for our Latinx Students
- Facilitating Critical Conversations
The discussions that have come from these trainings have been extremely beneficial as we continue to become braver in our conversations about equity and inclusion. If you have any questions about this work feel free to message me at [email protected].
In the Wide All-Inclusive Love of Jesus,
Director of Equity and Inclusion