By Sara Brown, Contributing Writer
NORTHBOROUGH – The Northborough Diversity and Inclusion Committee met with members of the school community May 6 to discuss how both groups can help each other further initiatives related to diversity and equity.
According to Northborough/Southborough Superintendent Gregory Martineau, the school district formed an equity coalition to go over different aspects of the school community and the educational atmosphere it creates. This coalition was comprised of students, parents, teachers and staff. They met on a monthly basis.
“What type of graduates do we want leaving high school is something we thought long and hard about,” he said.
The coalition broke up into sub-groups to tackle different ideas, which included the school mascot, community partnerships, policy handbook procedures, and curriculum.
Martineau announced the high school and middle schools will, next year be participating in the Anti-Defamation League’s A World of Difference Program. The program helps students recognize bias and the harm it inflicts on individuals and society, build understanding of the value and benefits of diversity, improve intergroup relations, and confront racism, anti-Semitism and all other forms of bigotry according to its website.
“We all need to be using the same language and be aware of our own biases and learn how to have difficult conversations,” said Martineau.
The school district will also be working with an outside consultant on a diversity audit in the upcoming months. That will take about four to five months to complete.
“This will help us understand what we are doing well and what areas we need to improve on,” said Martineau.
The School Committee recently voted to retire the use of the “Tomahawk” mascot from Algonquin Regional High School.
“A mascot should not divide but unite,” Martineau said on that topic.
The Diversity and Inclusion Committee asked how they could support the School Committee in their recent decision. Martineau said they could voice their support for the School Committee and say why they believe the right choice was made.
“If you could say ‘School Committee we support you,’ that’s helpful,” he said. “That’s not who they are hearing from right now.”
He also asked them to participate in the upcoming meetings about the selection of a new mascot.
According to Martineau, the school community is growing more diverse by the years and that can be especially seen in the kindergarten level.
Committee member Diedra Wrighting asked what the school district is doing to have a faculty that is reflective of the growing diverse student body. Martineau said the school district is taking a closer look at how they recruit. That involves casting a wider net on where they post job announcements. However, he said, this past year has been difficult to hire in general.
“We are not seeing a diverse set of candidates apply,” said Martineau. “Why and how can we change that? We don’t have the answers for that yet.”