Building on Our Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Foundation

Jessica Chanos | ID+E Co-Director
Barstow’s Inclusion, Diversity and Equity (ID+E) committee works to strengthen the foundation of inclusion that is part of our school culture. The Cultural Enrichment Festival last February was certainly one of the highlights of this effort. Families and friends represented 30 countries and shared traditions, food and culture with more than 500 guests! It was magical. It was emotional. And we want to build on the momentum it created.
ID+E co-director David Muhammad and I, along with faculty and staff committee members Nia Anderson-High, Amanda James, Lindsay Zimmerman and Brooke Thompson, have developed this comprehensive calendar to continue to grow in this important work. The calendar represents many aspects of inclusion and diversity, including ableism, neurodiversity and belonging. We will also continue to support programming around racism, antisemitism and mental health. 

We made an intentional choice to begin the year with Senior Vice President of the Barstow Schools and Chief Operating Officer Liz Bartow, who will speak to students in all divisions about ableism and belonging. Ableism is discrimination of people with physical and mental disabilities. We want our students to develop an understanding of people who have different abilities than their own, and we believe the ultimate goal of our work is to develop a sense of belonging. We want students, faculty and staff and our families to know one another, and to enjoy a sense of belonging and connection throughout the school community.

Overview of Calendar
Our ID+E calendar is filled with cultural performances, learning opportunities and celebrations for everyone to enjoy. Two professional dance groups will perform at Barstow during the school year, one during Hispanic Heritage Month in September and one during Black History Month February. We will welcome guest speakers and award-winning authors, and screen documentaries dealing with mental health, race and neurodiversity. Neurodiversity refers to the different ways in which our brains function, including the autism spectrum and ADHD. 

One of the bigger undertakings is an optional day of service on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Prior to that day, a community leader will discuss the importance of giving back and we will provide volunteer opportunities to all grade levels for the holiday. We hope you will circle Monday, Jan. 15, 2024, on your calendar and join us in this effort.

Parent Opportunities
Plans for the return of the Culture Enrichment Festival are already underway. Save the date for Saturday, Feb. 4, 2024. We are grateful to the families who made the event so impactful and we will invite our middle and upper school students to take a more active role this year with volunteer opportunities and “big kid” passports. 

In addition to the festival, we want to respond to feedback to provide more opportunities for our community to join together and support one another. We will hold two community potluck-style dinners, one in the fall and one in the spring, where families are invited to bring a dish from their country or culture to share with the group. 

Student Clubs
Another exciting addition to our ID+E plans is to increase student involvement. Barstow has always encouraged students to create their own clubs focused on service, cultural exchange and belonging. That will grow this year through a new requirement that each student club must plan and host at least one event for the student body. Sharing interests and hobbies with each other promotes understanding, connection and inclusion.

Back to Belonging
We hope to see all of you at our ID+E events throughout the school year. We encourage you to bookmark our calendar, remind our students of upcoming dates, and join us for family and parent-focused evenings and events. Did you know that Barstow is ranked by as the most diverse private/independent high school in Jackson County? We look forward to building on that strong foundation, and adding a deeper understanding on inclusion and belonging throughout our community.  It’s always a great day to be a Barstow Knight.

2023-2024 ID+E Calendar