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Cheshire Academy Fosters a Beloved Community for MLK Weekend

January 18, 2024

“It starts with me.” 

For 230 years, Cheshire Academy has celebrated the uniqueness of each individual student in an internationally minded community, encouraging curiosity and appreciation for other cultures, traditions, backgrounds, and experiences. So, for the school’s Diversity, Equity, and Justice Community Weekend and 34th annual MLK Day Celebration on Jan. 12-15, CA did just that, considering the difference just one person can make. 

With the theme of “It Starts with Me: Cultivating a Beloved Community Mindset to Transform Unjust Systems,” the weekend featured guest speakers and nonprofits, student- and faculty-led discussions and programs, and interactive workshops. These interactive sessions enhanced students’ understanding of systems and activated their agency to cultivate King’s vision of a Beloved Community, defined in part by The King Center as “a society where caring and compassion drive political policies that support the worldwide elimination of poverty and hunger and all forms of bigotry and violent. At its core, the Beloved Community is an engine of reconciliation.” 

Powerful student activities included: 

  • An interactive workshop led by Swords to Plowshares Northeast during which students transformed gun pieces into farm tools and jewelry 
  • A question-and-answer period with Tiernan Cabot from Hartford Bags of Love, who explained the impetus for his nonprofit and how students can support its mission (CA raised $900 in support of Bags of Love leading up to MLK Day!) 
  • A musical performance by Hartford’s Proud Drill Drum and Dance Corp 
  • Gospel singing led by theater director Patrick Laffin 
  • A social identifier project led by Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion student interns when students created “molecules” that prioritized “the big eight” social identities: ability, age, ethnicity, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status 
  • “I See Color” art workshop in which community members used paint squares to match their skin color, which were then combined for a larger display with their peers’ tiles

 

At Cheshire Academy, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is central, and aligns with the school’s mission. CA has been considered home to students from all over world since the mid-1800s, and the tenets of belonging, safety, and connectedness, as well as critical thinking, are vital to a vibrant community, allowing graduates to go on thrive as global citizens. 

This year, we welcome students from 11 states and 21 countries, and are proud to offer many multicultural clubs, including the Black Student Union, Diversity Club, and the Gender/Sexuality Alliance. 

View photos from the Community Weekend and MLK Day Celebration in our Flickr photo albums: Diversity, Equity, and Justice Community Weekend and Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration. To learn more about DEI at CA, visit our website.