Last month, Prep for Prep joined forces with Oliver Scholars to host a social justice youth conference. Forms of Resistance, a one-day event held at Sacred Heart School in New York City, Thursday, June 15, prompted 92 9th and 10th graders from both programs to use their voices and leadership skills to create positive social change in their schools, communities, and beyond.
The conference was emceed by Olivia S. and Abby V. (XXXIX), high school students from Oliver Scholars and Prep for Prep, respectively. To the general public, these two education access programs have the potential to be viewed as competitors but on this day attendees were encouraged to come together over their shared experiences as students of color at independent schools. “You all are a collective unit,” said Olivia to the group. “Together, you are stronger.”
The event featured remarks from Elizabeth Gillory, Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Sacred Heart; Dr. Deidre Franklin, Chief Program and Equity Officer at Oliver Scholars; Jackson Collins (XII), Executive Director at Prep for Prep; and Danielle Cox, CEO of Oliver Scholars. Latoya Massey, an Oliver Scholars alum, gave a compelling keynote address, during which she stressed financial literacy and self-care as critical forms of resistance. She also shared the following affirmation: “I am somebody and I’ll be an even better somebody tomorrow.”
The conference also featured an inspiring panel discussion about financial literacy and how to increase one’s health and happiness. The panelists represented a range of ages from current high school students to alumni from the education access programs’ early days. Imani Dawson (IX), David Ruiz (XXVIII), Etzerson Philitas (P9 XII), and Shana Harris (P9 I) represented Prep for Prep. They each shared valuable advice about what students can do now and in the future to create a better world for themselves. “Resistance starts with awareness,” said Imani Dawson, a communications executive and strategist and Prep for Prep alumna. “As brilliant people of color, it is incumbent upon us to be intentional about what we do on campus.”
During the second half of the day, the 9th and 10th graders separated into groups to create public service announcements about political and financial resistance and self care, which they presented to all conference attendees at the end of the day. These groups were facilitated by 11th and 12th graders in Prep for Prep and Oliver Scholars, including Julia C. (P9 XXXIII), and Alexa A. (P9 XXXIII).
The Forms of Resistance conference was the brainchild of Alejandro Luciano P9 I, Director of Mental Wellness at Prep for Prep, and Mark Hall, Chief Enrollment and Academic Officer at Oliver Scholars. Alejandro, Director of Post-Placement Counseling Roberta Osorio, and Associate Director of Post-Placement Counseling Danielle Montanez represented Prep on the event planning team.