An Independent School • Grades 5-12

by Angela A. ’19, Lelan B. ’19, Eva B. ’18, Kaiz E. ’19, Elda K. ’20, and Melissa W. ’19

The Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC) stands out in my life as the most profound experience I have ever had. Being immersed in a sea of incredibly powerful, diverse, beautiful, and strong young people with so many similarities – and just as many differences – as one another opened my eyes to so many new perspectives on identity, culture, and society. SDLC not only created an environment where I felt 100 percent comfortable to say whatever I was thinking or feeling, it allowed us to really fall back and lean on each other when talking about anything controversial or emotional.

Being at SDLC gave us more confidence to come back to Lakeside and be ready to make change. The discussions pushed us to be uncomfortable and vulnerable, something that is essential when one wants others to understand their story. The personal experiences that other students shared with the group were remarkable, and it allowed me to see things from other perspectives. At Lakeside, we need to learn to be vulnerable with each other, because only then will we be able to have meaningful discussions. I definitely came back with a different attitude than before the trip, and I’m no longer afraid to stand up to problems ingrained in our school culture.

Lakeside has made significant progress in comparison to other schools. Programs at Lakeside, such as our To Be Honest Discussions and alliance/affinity groups allow students to find a space in which they can feel safe, accepted, and connect with others who identity similarly. However, even with these structures in place, students at Lakeside are still lacking in being able to form strong connections and have deep conversation. With our knowledge from SDLC, we plan to create a presentation aimed to allow students to truly experience what it means to be vulnerable and have meaningful conversations, similar to those we experienced and loved at SDLC.

Each of the students who attended this conference can agree that they left with warmth in their hearts and smiles on their faces. The opportunity to meet a multitude of incredible people who truly want to have a positive impact on the world, especially during this time of controversy and chaos, was beyond inspiring. Not only did we leave with a sense of reassurance in a future generation of leaders and activists, but we learned that we have that same responsibility. As a group of individuals who care about the future of our nation and world, we now look to do our part and make a difference – big or small. The Student Diversity Leadership Conference has sparked the activist within each of us and that spark can never be dimmed.

Learn more about SDLC in the news story "Lakesiders attend national diversity leadership conferences."