The issue of racism and intolerance continues to plague our nation. Despite great progress in our history, racism clings to us, refusing to fade away easily. It is insidious and sinful, an affront to our relationships with one another and with God. Unfortunately, its ubiquity means this inequality towards our fellow brothers and sisters can be found in varying degrees within all aspects of society, even our beloved school. Reading the stories online through the “Black@Pius” Instagram account has been heart-breaking for us all, but it has also helped to highlight the importance that we never cease fighting actively against racism.
As painful as it is to read these online posts and individual correspondence, they have strengthened our resolve to do what is right and just. The mission of St. Pius X is clear: every student deserves to thrive mentally, physically, and spiritually within our halls. Every student deserves to go through all four years of high school knowing they are equally loved, respected, cherished, fostered, and challenged. No one should feel that they are less important than their classmates. Racism threatens to undo this mission, but we will not allow it.
Our First Steps
Last school year (‘19-‘20) saw the initial stages of our efforts to eradicate racism and renew our commitment to live out our mission more fully. Here is a quick recap:
- Formation of the Diverse Voices group, composed of families of color, to bring diversity issues before the Administration.
- Formation of Compassion Professional Learning Community, a group of teachers and administrators who continue to strategize methods for improving diversity and equity within our school.
- During an all Faculty and Staff meeting, a group of students of color presented an in-depth account of their experiences at Pius, emphasizing areas that need particular reform.
- Creation of the Diverse Student Union club dedicated to celebrating all races and ethnicities.
- Theology classes discussed racial issues pertinent to our school.
Our Action Plan for the Future
These first steps were just the beginning. We wanted to listen carefully to our community before launching into the next phase. One must take a survey of the land before knowing how to navigate it successfully. The next steps are coming into focus.
- Creation of an all-new diversity class to add to the curriculum in the near future.
- On-going: a deliberate emphasis on hiring faculty and staff of color and making certain their inclusion into the Pius family is meaningful, genuine, and complete.
- On-going: a thorough and on-going examination of curricula to ensure people of color are represented in a respectful manner.
- Pre-planning (August 2020): teacher training on diversity and recognizing microaggressions.
- Pre-planning (August 2020): installation of new signage that reminds students and faculty of our pride in diverse community
- Complete: the student handbook has been amended to strengthen our position on harassment and language that is deemed inappropriate, with all violations written up for disciplinary referral.
A Stronger St. Pius X Community
As we grow as a family and wrestle with the aspects of human nature which attempt to tear us away from each other and the mission of St. Pius X, more steps will be implemented. We may also find that the steps listed here may be adjusted or enriched if we find other efforts may bring about more progress. We have heard the stories and listened to the experiences of our students and alumni to date (and welcome the opportunity to hear more); it is time to learn from them, allow them to assist us on our path to following the Law of God, and move forward. We will emphasize to students that they, too, must be a part of this solution. Students must hold each other accountable for their behavior and language, while the faculty and administration do the same. It is also important for students to speak up and report incidences in a timely manner so they can be adequately addressed.
But no matter the circumstance, we must all remember that our Catholic faith calls us not to “cancel” those in this world who might hurt us. Our school is one of the primary means by which our students can participate in restorative justice: those who have wronged another are to be made aware of their sinful action, but it is essential that the community is made whole again through conversion and redemption.
Links to Correspondence Regarding Diversity & Inclusion at St. Pius X: