Students participate in inaugural Hampton Roads Prejudice Awareness Summit
A group of seventh and eighth grade students participated in the inaugural Hampton Roads Prejudice Awareness Summit. The virtual summit was presented by the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities (VCIC), with whom Collegiate has partnered for diversity, equity, inclusion and justice (DEIJ) work since 2012.
The intensive day-long workshop was designed for middle school students in Hampton Roads and incudes to a year of programming designed to increase awareness, knowledge and acceptance of differences.
Students Sarah B. ’25, Hailey G. ’26, Charlotte H. ’26, Natalie K. ’26, David S. ’26, Joshua T. ’26 and Martin T. ’25 participated in the inaugural event.
Some of the students are also members of the middle school’s DEIJ student advisory group, which is open to interested middle school students, and “will work to provide students’ voice and input into the programming and activities around DEIJ topics in the middle school,” said interim Head of Middle School Charlene Loope.
What Did Students Hope to Get from the Experience?
Hailey wanted to learn how to make people feel more comfortable with their differences.
“I wanted to be a part of the summit because I want everyone to feel comfortable in their own skin, no matter what they feel or believe,” she said. “I was really hoping to gain sort of a new view on prejudice, and I did get that.”
Martin was hoping to learn about ways in which he and his peers could prevent prejudice.
“I wanted to learn what I could do to help others and maybe even help myself,” said Martin. “One thing that I gained from this summit was learning more about what is happening to others that many people have no idea. I am very grateful for this opportunity. It was a great experience for me, and it was very cool to be a part of it.”
Charlotte was also excited about the opportunity.
“I decided to be a part of this group was because I notice prejudice every day, and to be completely honest, everyone has spread prejudice to another at last once in their life,” said Charlotte. “I wanted to know how I, myself, can be better and how my words and those of others could affect people.”
What Did They Learn?
“I learned about different types of prejudice and how it can be spread,” said Charlotte. “They taught us to stop prejudice when we see it, but that violence is never the answer, and if it ever gets too far then we should get an adult. Some other very important knowledge I gained was that adults experience prejudice as well as kids and that there is always a way to get through being bullied whether it be by friends supporting you or talking to your parents or someone you trust.”
They also were able to learn from other students and other schools.
“I’m most excited about getting new perspectives from the different schools and students,” said Hailey. “As a member of DEIJ [Student Advisory Group], I am incredibly excited to see what my peers have to offer as we make our school a more inclusive place. I would like to make our school a more inclusive place. I think people should know that when we attend the PAS meeting, it is a student-run meeting, not a lecture.”
“Overall, this was an incredible experience, and I most definitely recommend it to anyone thinking about joining,” said Hailey.