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A Letter from the President and Vice President

Isabel Lucas '21 & Kelsey Freeman '21

Hello, Upper School Community! 

There is no doubt that the state of the Academy and, more specifically, the state of the Upper School, has been a malleable one: from attending classes on Google Meet, to playing sports with masks on, to eating socially distanced lunches, the 2020-2021 school year has posed a number of challenges, all of which our community has risen to meet. We know as Upper School students that we will continue shaping ourselves into proactive, informed, and involved members of our community. Here is a brief look into some of the work student government has gotten involved in over the last few months:

In late May, we started working with faculty members to refine the summer reading list and compile a list of resources that would inspire students to educate themselves further on topics such as systemic oppression. We also opened up conversations after the George Floyd murder and created grade-specific events in hopes of giving students the opportunity to heal as a community. 

Also during the summer, we formed the first student-led curriculum committee that is dedicated to creating a more inclusive, effective, empowering, and intersectional curriculum that is representative of the entire MKA community. The SCC, as it is now known, worked alongside faculty to give feedback on existing curriculum as well as make creative suggestions for future coursework. This spring, the SCC plans to work closely with department chairs on book lists and classwork for next fall.

We’re also excited for upcoming projects this semester centered around diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism. The Fine and Performing Arts Department is currently working on a multicultural mural which will be a symbol of the diversity that is present on our campus. With the unfortunate circumstances of the year and the unlikelihood of everyone being back in the building, this mural will not be completed during our term, but we are looking to make great progress by the end of the year. We are also working with Ms. Hoppe and a few talented artists of color in our community to create a “Black at MKA” performance. This performance will include choreographed dance pieces and spoken word poetry. We are definitely looking forward to celebrating the excellence from artists of color this school year and beyond. 

All of these projects were possible because grade-level student government representatives have been hard at work crafting creative ways for you and your classmates to come together. Our ninth graders have been hosting Friday Night events, featuring many games of Kahoot with bookstore credit as the grand prize. Our sophomore class decorated their entryway with their peers’ names and created a permit training course with guidance for students wishing to procure a driving permit. Our juniors also decorated their entrance, in their case for the PSAT, and have plans to form a junior town hall as well as a junior thesis celebration. Lastly, our amazing seniors celebrated mid-semester with chocolate chip cookies and also wrote notes to accompany Cougar Beanie Babies sent to kindergarten students (which are traditionally given out at the Gathering).

We have also worked alongside the SDLC to cultivate conversation circles and other virtual outlets for activism within our community. Over the summer, we finalized the planning on affinity groups, conversation circles, and open forums with the committee and were able to host quite a few successful conversations so far this year. As student leaders, we are also sitting on the JED planning committee with students and faculty to discuss mental health in our community and understand how our community can work together to create a more supportive community. 

Lastly, this week we formally launched our Student Innovation Support Program. In order to support and encourage social innovation and entrepreneurship in our community, student government will provide financial support through student innovation grants as well as other forms of support (advice, advertising, planning, etc.) to student organizations whose unique project(s) bring positive change and a large impact to our Upper School community. If you have any questions about the application process, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us! We are excited to see what ideas you come up with.

We know we’re in unprecedented, daunting, difficult, exhausting, tough, challenging times, but if we keep finding those small joys: a football game, a new recipe, a TV show; we know we’ll make it through.

May you have a joyful and rewarding second semester!

Isa & Kelsey