Raising kids in a diverse environment is an important part of ensuring they grow up to be well-rounded and empathetic adults.
Macomb County supports parents with this via an annual Student Diversity Summit, which is sponsored by the Macomb Intermediate School District (MISD), One Macomb, Macomb Community College, the Macomb County Chamber, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Interfaith Center for Racial Justice, the Chaldean Community Foundation, the Council of Asian Pacific Americans, Michigan Schools and Government Credit Union, the Arab American National Museum, the Michigan Center for Civic Education and all 21 of the county’s school districts.
It also provides students a chance to meet other students they might not otherwise have met.
“Our county is pretty diverse, we have over 100 different languages spoken in the county,” says Dr. Alesia Flye, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction/Chief Academic Officer at the Macomb Intermediate School District. “Our students are very familiar with their immediate school environment, but it’s important to bring them together with students from other schools to learn about one another.”
This annual event occurred on Feb. 15, 2022, and typically brings together 400 students representing each of Macomb County’s high schools and middle schools, for a day filled with breakout sessions that explore challenging topics such as racism, LGBTQ issues and immigration through first-hand accounts from students around the county.
Students at the Summit develop new understandings as they have a chance to reflect and share their unique experiences in addition to listening to others and learning about both different perspectives as well as the commonalities they have with others in Macomb County and beyond.
“The original goal of the Student Diversity Summit, and it continues to be the goal, was to bring students throughout the county together and provide an opportunity for students to have conversations about diversity,” Dr. Flye explains. “It’s evolved to include other topics and our students appreciate this opportunity to come together and speak their truth.”
After the Summit is over, students are encouraged to take what they’ve learned back to their school to help enhance the learning environment for the entire student body.
Student Diversity Summit 2022
Due to the ongoing pandemic, this year’s seventh annual Summit, “Journey to Unity: Lace Up for Your Journey,” was held virtually.
“All of the students attended two sessions,” Dr. Flye explains. “One of them was a foundational session, titled, “What’s your Frame?” which gave students the opportunity to talk about their culture, background and the uniqueness of their journey.”
Students picked their second session from a variety of options such as meditation, unity in art, the social and emotional needs of students in today’s world and the spirit of generosity.
“We also had a session on the importance of listening to each other and honoring the humanity in each other,” Dr. Flye adds. Additionally, “students had the option to attend a session called Story Circles, which included small groups of individuals who shared stories from their own experiences as well as what they have in common.”
“The Diversity Summit was a very open-minded, safe space for all, that was both interactive and educational,” adds Megan LaClair, a senior at Chippewa Valley High School who attended this year’s Summit.
“Students were able to connect their experiences with each other, while having a support team to help encourage and validate their struggles and successes. It challenged those who attended on an intellectual level, along with encouraging self-reflection,” she says.
For more information on the Student Diversity Summit and details on living in Macomb County, visit the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development at Make Macomb Your Home.