Raising kids in a diverse environment is an important part of ensuring they grow up to be well-rounded and empathetic adults.
Macomb County aims to support parents with this via its annual Student Diversity Summit, which provides students a chance to meet other students who 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, the assistant superintendent for instruction and the 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.”
The annual event, which happened on Feb. 26, 2021, typically brings together 400 students who represent each of Macomb County’s high schools (and some 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 other students in the community.
At the end of the day, all of the students at the Summit meet and have a chance to share their experiences.
“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. Since then, “it’s evolved to include other topics and our students appreciate the opportunity to come together and speak their truth.”
After the Summit is over, students are encouraged to take what they’ve learned back with them to their school to help improve the learning environment for their entire student body.
Student Diversity Summit 2021
Due to coronavirus, this year’s sixth annual Summit was held virtually and many of the discussions that students who attended had was shaped by the unique challenges this past year posed.
“With the global pandemic, we wanted to spend some time and have some social and emotional opportunities to help them cope, so there were sessions about resiliency and mindfulness,” Dr. Flye says. “We really wanted to give students tools to deal with the challenging times.”
“This year, all students participated in what was called the ‘Circle of Courage,’ which gave students the opportunities to focus on life skills and universal needs.”
Though virtual, Dr. Flye says this year’s event was still wildly successful.
“Virtually, we had the constraint of not hearing from as many students, but the messages and conversations they had throughout the day really resonated with them, and the feedback was very positive,” she adds. “The students were encouraging each other about the great ideas they were going to take back to their school, and some of the goals and outcomes that we would get in an in-person session, we were able to see met.”
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.