Supporting Our Students in Identity Development

On Thursday, September 30, we will be having a special Up/Downs community meeting, followed by an introduction to our affinity groups.  Up/Downs is an exercise facilitated by our Outreach Specialist, Rosetta Lee.  Up/Downs allows all members of the SGS community to claim identities and celebrate the rich and diverse backgrounds that make up our community. We describe categories of identities (birth order, family type, race, ethnicity, religion, ability, age, socioeconomics, etc.) and name major groups within those categories. If anyone identifies as a member of the group and wants to claim that identity in front of the community, they are invited to stand.  Anyone who is not standing for a group is invited to cheer and affirm those who are standing. It is a “challenge by choice” activity, and community members may claim or not claim as they are comfortable. Participants can find it powerful to be affirmed for aspects of their identity that are not always acknowledged, much less wildly applauded!
Rosetta leads Up/Downs in schools all around the country, and here at SGS it has become a beloved tradition. Students, faculty, and staff have an opportunity to share and learn about the various aspects of identity that help to shape who we are and how we show up at school and in the world at large. It is not always possible for people to know by looking at us what has influenced our lives or shaped our experiences. Sometimes diversity in a group includes hidden factors and/or identities, and these are explored as well.  
After Up/Downs, students are given the opportunity to hear from the facilitators of the different Affinity Groups, to find out more about what happens during those monthly gatherings and to think about whether they’d like to join. You can view the list of our current affinity groups and answers to some frequently asked questions about our Affinity Group program.  After Thursday’s events, we encourage you to ask your student questions about Up/Downs and the Affinity Fair.  A good place to start might be: ask students what happened during the activity, what the activity showed them about members of the community, whether they have something in common with someone they didn’t expect and how that felt. We value the diversity of our community and strive to cultivate and support it. Please let us know if you identify ways SGS can support your student or family better.
Located in the Central District, Seattle Girls' School is an independent school for girls and gender nonconforming students in grades 5-8. Our mission is to inspire and develop courageous leaders who think independently, work collaboratively, learn joyfully, and champion change.