• Community Voices
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
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Lawrentians Explore the Theme of Community
“Reach out and be vulnerable.”
“Take full advantage of everything offered here.”
“Be kind - you never know what people are going through.”
“Question everything, own your privilege, live like there’s no tomorrow.”
These are just a few of the pieces of advice shared by an alumni panel to kick-off Lawrenceville’s Community Day. Established in 2013, Community Day is an annual all-school event designed to share the diverse interests of our Lawrenceville Community. Employees and students are encouraged to expand their experiences by participating in activities dedicated to strengthening the bonds of community unique to our institution.
This year’s theme, “What the L: Re-Visioning Who We Are,” was meant to inspire all Lawrentians to not only imagine change at Lawrenceville, but begin to achieve that vision.
The day began with a panel of alumni in discussion with Barbara Odae ‘23 on the Kirby Arts Center stage. Three members of the Class of 2004 - journalist Jane Ferguson, creator Donna Rizzo, and lawyer Dwight Draughon ’04, joined alums Barry Gonzalez ‘82 and Don Kao ‘69 for a candid discussion about their experiences with community as students at Lawrenceville.
Community Day alumni panel in KAC.
From Ferguson’s experience joining Lawrenceville as a post graduate from Northern Ireland, to Gonzalez describing his journey to the School from East Harlem with all his belongings packed in a duffel bag, the alumni shared examples of how they transitioned from very different home communities to Lawrenceville’s campus.
“Culture shock, for me, was based on class,” Ferguson said. “As a scholarship kid who came from the ‘real world,’ I was geographically very far, coming from Northern Ireland, I felt like I was sitting between two worlds. Any young person understands what it feels like when they sit between worlds and sit between versions of yourself.”
“Imagine having a t-shirt on and going from 20 degree weather to 100 degree weather in minutes,” Dwight said. “Your body will adjust. Going from the Bronx to Lawrenceville was a stark difference - it was very difficult to adjust.”
Rizzo described how she began by visiting home often when she first became a student at Lawrenceville, but eventually transitioned to feel more at home in New Jersey.
“I found myself bringing pieces of Lawrenceville with me during these breaks where I thought it would be the opposite,” she said. “I was longing for the experience and the people that came from Lawrenceville. This little bubble is something very different than what I know my friends had in Queens (New York) or at their high schools.”
Following the panel discussion, the alumni hosted individual workshops as part of a selection of breakout sessions students could choose to attend. Workshops offered ranged from discussing community as a form of self-care and engaging in Circle Practice, painting masks and tote bags and partner portraits, sustainable cooking, trail building, movement through the art of dance, and more. The day concluded with a Community Barbecue featuring dessert food trucks.
Students in a Community Day painting workshop.
Community Day barbecue.
“Your willingness to engage in activities and discussions, and your commitment to building a stronger, more connected community, made this event a great success,” wrote Cameron Brickhouse, Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in an email to Lawrentians following the event. “Your active listening at the panel, your participation in workshops and your willingness to fellowship at the Community Barbeque provided valuable opportunities for us all to learn from one another and to deepen our understanding of what it means to be part of a thriving community.”
Click here to view more photos from the event.