by Liam Warin '20
Two classes have passed. Quizzes, tests, papers have all been turned in. Students begin to leave their classrooms. At any other school at this time, most students would be going to their third class. But not at St. Albans. At 10:15 AM on Mount St. Alban, the students are found on their way to the single most unifying experience of their high school careers: chapel.
No matter where you enter the Little Sanctuary, you end up in the same place. Physically, you sit next to people in your form in designated, yet informal, seating regions which cultivate community; spiritually, you end up where you want to be. If you want to take a rest from your stress-heavy day, do it. If you want to reflect on the more sublime things in life, do it. If you want to just think about the reading, do it. The beauty of chapel is its meaning; chapel is what you want it to be.
Each chapel, a senior (or a vestryman) walks up to the podium—after the reading, of course—and shares with the rest of the school a story. While not all stories are personal, the vast majority are, and such tales connect the students, the faculty, and the staff to the speaker in an intimate way that no other venue promotes. Take, for example, Nick Kim’s homily, in which he detailed hardship in his life and exposed the community to a struggle that many did not know he undertook; through this sharing of private stories, people who don’t even know Nick now feel like they’ve known him for ages.
Chapel, unlike any other place on the close, unifies all students of all forms, backgrounds, and classes. I hope you’ve enjoyed this short piece on what makes chapel so great, and “let us go in peace to love and serve the lord”.
by Katie Ambrose ‘20
The near-total ban on abortion passed by Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey earlier this month has sparked a nationwide resurgence of the abortion debate. While always a relatively hot topic, abortion is once again in the national spotlight as well as our Instagram feeds, provoking many to share their own opinions publicly. While I’ve heard logical arguments on both sides of the issue, I’ve heard less-sound ones too, and even some that are downright absurd. This article is in response to a justification for abortion I’ve been hearing a lot lately: life begins at birth therefore abortion is not murder. I suspect that this faulty deduction is based on a misinterpretation of life as personhood, a distinction I aim to clarify in this article.
I’ll preface this by saying I’m pro-choice but often find myself at odds with certain arguments made by the pro-choice community. My discontent arises from an increasing neglect and ignorance of the ethical implications and biological facts of abortion. What is an inherently complex issue deserves treatment as such; and “easy” solutions make light of the challenging ethical dilemmas posed by abortion. In this article I will state my case and explain how I hold two seemingly paradoxical viewpoints: A) that abortion is murder B) that it should be legal. You can agree or disagree, all that I ask is that you take into consideration the biological facts and nuanced nature of ethics when forming your own opinions on the issue.
The claim that life—and here I mean life in its purely biological sense—begins at birth is false. In fact, it is an objective, uncontested, and scientifically proven fact that life begins at conception. From sperm-egg fusion, the human zygote produces increasingly complex tissues, structures, and organs, which compose the human embryo. This self-orchestrated organismal behavior is unique to the zygote and sets it apart from mere bodily cells, which do not generate the coordinated interactions necessary to build a human body. We all know and recognize that a tree is alive, a protist is alive, and a red blood cell is alive too. The notion that a human zygote is alive shouldn’t be a point of debate.
I’m going to loosely define murder as the deliberate killing of a human being. I’m also going to loosely define human being as any living organism containing Homo Saipan DNA. By these definitions, abortion—the deliberate ending of a fetus’ life—is murder. But to be fair, the definitions of “murder” and “human being” are highly contested in the context of this debate, and the differentiation of abortion as murder is not essential to my argument. My point is this: abortion does end a life. Let’s start calling it what it is. Claiming that life begins at birth, while it offers an easy way out of a difficult ethical dilemma, reduces abortion to a morally negligible act. Women who are considering abortion as well as pro-choice activists should fully recognize that the decision to abort is a decision to end a life.
So why then am I pro-choice? I believe that in cases where the victim is not a sentient being, murder can be morally justifiable. What this boils down to is a distinction between human and person: human, as defined earlier, is an objective biological term; person, however, is a moral term and its definition is entirely subjective. Personhood is what entitles one to moral consideration and certain rights, and naming what those rights are and what makes a person a person is very much what is at the core of this debate. Is one a person simply by virtue of being alive or being a human? If not, what is it that constitutes personhood? Where is the line drawn?
I believe consciousness—the capacity to think, feel, and be self-aware—is what separates the state of personhood from mere being. It follows that unconscious beings should not be subject to moral consideration. To what extent the human fetus is conscious is a topic of debate, but most scientific evidence suggests that even early signs of consciousness occur in late stages of pregnancy and infants are not fully conscious until at least eighteen months after birth. While a mature fetus reacts to external stimuli, these reactions likely have a subcortical nonconscious origin. Not to mention, the fetus is almost always asleep and insensate due to endogenous sedation (neuroinhibitors such as adenosine and pregnanolone, which induce a coma-like sleep state). To summarize the pool of scientific research: there is tons of evidence that suggests fetuses are either unconscious or conscious to a limited degree, but there is virtually none that suggests full consciousness before birth.
With an overwhelming majority of scientific evidence showing that fetuses are not conscious—or at least not completely—we return to the question of personhood. Is a fetus a person? According to my previously stated criterion for personhood, no. And it follows that because a fetus is not a person, it is not subject to the moral rights and protections personhood grants, one of which being a right to live. While somewhat brutal in its logic, my argument—contrary to what many have characterized it to be—is not dehumanizing; a fetus, by virtue of its genetic code, is a human being. I fully recognize that. What I take issue with, however, is the claim that fetuses deserve the same rights that we do, simply because they’re human beings. It seems that humanity has a strong intuition to feel compassion towards the fetus, a helpless and vulnerable member of our own species. But intuition alone is not an objective and valid basis for prescribing moral rights.
Keep in mind also: I said in the case that a victim is not a sentient being murder can be morally justifiable, not murder is morally justified. I do not advocate for the unrestricted legalization of abortion. I do, however, believe women should have the choice to abort in cases where murder is admissible. What constitutes a morally justifiable case? That, my friend, is can of worms to be opened in another article. But I’ll say this: circumstances of rape, endangerment of the woman’s life, and serious mental and physical disabilities in the fetus are the most valid justifications for choosing to abort. In my opinion, abortion should always be legal in these cases. However, anything beyond these is where the line gets blurry; and to be completely honest, I’m still debating where I stand on circumstances like a woman not being able to afford a child, being too young for motherhood, or fearing that a child would interfere with her current life plan. It takes a great deal of time and deliberation for me to seriously position myself around social issues such as this. And in general, I don’t have strong political opinions or even align myself with a particular party platform. In the end though, I find this liberating. My conclusions are not drawn from subscribing to a partisan view or reaffirming my position as a [insert political party here], they are instead based on reason and upholding a logical consistency between my ideas from one issue to the next.
Where you stand on this issue matters. Not only as the future voters, leaders, and activists of America, but as rational beings. Your thoughts on abortion are a manifestation of your fundamental philosophical beliefs. But don’t get it twisted: what you see as proper ethics should be guiding your outlook on social issues, not the other way around.
by Smith Mohler '19
Prom. It is approaching, and I am sure you are not ready. Do not fear, Smith Mohler is here. When people think of Prom the first thing people think is: WWSMD? What would Smith Mohler do? First, I would suggest figuring out who you want to take, and stem from there. If you are asking someone who you are particularly close with, I would definitely make a nice sign to show that you are asking them for a reason better than your lack of a date. Try to be creative, as I know that is difficult for some of you, unlike me. I am so creative.
The worst part of the whole process is actually going through the awkwardness of a prom ask. You are just going to want to get in the zone, and tune out the haters. As my favorite artist Taylor Swift famously said, “'Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play, and the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, baby, I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake I shake it off, I shake it off”.
When, or if, your potential date is approaching, walk towards them with the swagger of a nfl cornerback. DO NOT STAND THERE WITHOUT MAKING A MOVE. You will embarrass yourself and have to see it on others peoples snapchat stories for the next 24 hours. That is not the move.
Last but not least, give your date a hug after she has had a hardy laugh at the creative sign you have prepared for them. If you're anything like me, you have a great shot at securing a date.
By the way, I always snaptext my dates. Godspeed.
by Courtney Green '20
The College Board, creators of both the SAT, AP exams, and subject tests, recently announced their plan to implement an “adversity index” which is designed to “place SAT scores in the context of their socioeconomic advantages or disadvantages”. The quantitative measurement of disadvantage used to determine the adversity index is one that has been implemented by approximately 50 universities as of 2019. However, the College Board plans to expand this system to 150 colleges by 2020. For example, many elite private institutions such as Yale have already been implementing the adversity index. Nevertheless, unlike private universities, many public educational institutions do not have to take the time to do in-depth research on an applicant’s school and environmental background. In the cases of public universities, the predetermined adversity index provided by the College Board can give these schools helpful background information about their prospective students. The College Board is not exposing information college admissions did not already have access to; it is moreso offering an organized compilation of external factors at play which have the potential to limit a student’s success.
To the best of its ability, the adversity index measures the socioeconomic disadvantages that candidates for admission have faced. The adversity index includes a multitude of factors which provide contextual data on a student’s neighborhood and high school environment. Such factors are determined by a students zip code and include median family income, the average highest level of parents education, and many percentages consisting of households in poverty, households who use food stamps, households with single parents, and households with parents who are unemployed or hold nonprofessional jobs. All students in the same neighborhood with the same zip code will have the same neighborhood index as well as all students attending the same high school. The adversity index is not intended to reflect on the student's merit, rather, the adversity index provides context on the student's environment as an indication of how it may have hindered or facilitated their academic successes. Additionally, the adversity index does not include race. The adversity index is on a scale of 1 to 100 percentage points where 1 represents least disadvantaged and 100 represents most disadvantaged. College admissions offices, as well as officials at the College Board, are the only ones with access to student’s adversity scores -- students will not be able to view their own scores, nor will the faculty at their respective high schools.
There are many systematic flaws inherent in college-entry-level standardized tests, the most notable being that the SAT and ACT seem to be more of a reflection of a student’s preparation and access to tutoring and a students quality of education rather than a reflection of actual intelligence. For example, standardized tests put historically-oppressed minorities at a disadvantage, especially those with low socioeconomic statuses, due to the fact that they do not have the same resources available to prepare for the college entry-level tests that affluent applicants do. Statistics show that Blacks, Latinx, and Native American applicants score lower on the SAT than White and Asian applicants. Yet, these same minorities are statistically worse-off socioeconomically. Of the total amount of Americans in poverty, Blacks make up twenty-six percent, Native Americans make up twenty-seven percent, Hispanics make up twenty-three percent, Whites make up twelve percent, and Asian Americans make up the remaining twelve percent (source: Poverty USA). Students who are, on average, far better off socioeconomically, will evidently score higher on their college-entry-level tests due to their access to preparation programs and the school provided resources for the advancement of their education as a result of their economic stability. It is a well-known fact among students of the Close that our test scores can rise significantly with a few trips to a tutor and guided preparation material. Subsequently, many of us are in a position where if we score poorly on one test, we can afford to take it multiple times until we receive a score we are happy with. Students in lower socioeconomic positions do not have these same privileges. The national evaluation of every student on college entry-level exams does not reflect the fact that each student receives a different caliber of education. These disparities in opportunity make the standards for comparison unjust. When there are institutionalized systems in place that disadvantage minorities students from achieving success, it is unfair that standardized tests stand alone with no background information on a student’s economic disadvantages and access to quality education. Thus, the adversity index is the College Board’s attempt to shed light on certain financial challenges prospective students and their families face that can potentially hinder their academic accomplishments so that college admissions officers can take these challenges into account when reviewing applicants’ test scores.
Many affluent students fear that their privilege will set them back in the eyes of college admissions, yet, nowhere does the College Board state that students with higher adversity indexes, those who are more disadvantaged, will be given an advantage in college admissions. The adversity index does not give an advantage to students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, rather, it provides an explanation for their lower test scores. In addition, many believe it is unfair that non-socio-economic setbacks which affect one’s adversity, such as familial issues or battles with mental illness will be left out of the index. However, such adversities, while important, are subjective and can in no way be weighed quantitatively which is why it remains up to an individual to relay aforementioned challenges in their essays or personal narratives which has always been the case.
Opponents of affirmative action argue that, while the intentions of affirmative action are helpful in promoting diversity, the way it is implemented does so unjustly. There is a common misconception that an affluent Black or Latinx student with lower test scores would get into an elite university over an impoverished White student. While a distorted view of how affirmative action actually works, if this were actually the case with college admissions, the adversity score would eliminate alleged injustices as it would make apparent to admissions that students are not always put at an academic disadvantage because of their race. For example, I am a Black female. These identifiers presumably indicate that I have suffered inherent disadvantages because of my race and gender; therefore, someone like me would benefit from race-based affirmative action. However, because I have grown up with privileges such as access to private education in top tier school districts, the adversity score would accurately depict such to college admissions who are considering my application next to a more socioeconomically disadvantaged student as it would show that their adversity is greater than mine.
While I am a huge advocate for the adversity index since it provides colleges with the important context of a student’s background, I am uncomfortable with the fact that the College Board is the company doing so. In my opinion, a monopolistic firm that notoriously profits off of standardized testing should be the last organization to be providing an adversity index as they have questionable underlying intentions behind doing so. Is it even legal for the College Board to make a profit off of information, we as minors, provide to them? The creation of subject tests and AP exams are ultimately just more opportunities for the College Board to profit off of students during the college application process, so how can we trust that that adversity information is in safe hands? That being said, the adversity index provides crucial and necessary information to colleges and is ultimately a good measurement of an applicants socioeconomic disadvantages.
by Anaya Rodgers '20
At an independent school, navigating the social scene is especially difficult considering how small and intimate the community is. There are so few people that one feels the need to grasp onto anyone, even if they wouldn’t naturally click. And the natural thing to do is search for someone with qualities in common, but at a school like NCS where there are roughly three hundred upper schoolers, and less than seventy girls in my grade, for example, it is normal to feel like you don’t fit in or belong. This hypothetical was a reality for me when I began at NCS in fourth grade.
As a newcomer and a former public school attendee, navigating NCS was similar to navigating a maze, but in the maze were forty-four confused mice; roughly forty were white mice, and I along with four others were black mice. I came from schools with a sea of brown, both students and teachers alike. So when I started at NCS, I felt lonely. Both because I didn’t know anyone in an unfamiliar place, but more so because I rarely saw anyone who looked like m. And I would say this was the case until I entered the upper school, and attended a meeting that would change my life.
On the first F day of 2016, you know where I was during clubs. I ran to Ms. Hamilton’s room from physics and as if the ancestors had coursed through me themselves, I began to cry. I hadn’t seen this many black students at NCS in my entire six years. It was home like I had never experienced before. The smiles I saw before I even made it through the door, and hugs I received before I introduced myself gave me insight into the tight bond that this community shared and would soon extend to me. Almost three years later, I can proudly identify myself as the president of this club, the Black Student Union. Without it, I can only imagine that I would still be my fourth grade self with a better understanding of the school.
Since my time in the upper school, we have established a black student union in middle school. It’s wonderful to see that they won’t have to wait until upper school to share this experience. And as I hope that some of my work as a leader of this club and community will be effective to the thirty black girls in BSU, I also hope that it translates to a lower schooler who looks a lot like I did all those years ago.
Every student deserves to see themselves every place in which they exist, particularly at their school. Affinity groups provide that affirmation, the comfort we so desperately seek. I don’t know where I’d be without BSU, but that’s a question I do not have to answer. I believe in the power of young women to exist in, bring light to, and dominate any space in which we may be. And, to me, affinity groups are the tunnel to bring us to that light.
by Lily Synder '22
“You can’t sit with us!” This famous line from the movie Mean girls has come to symbolize clique all across the country. The only difference with NCS is that supposedly it’s based on our school. However, in my opinion, the NCS community strives to be inclusive towards everyone. This usually shines through but not always. Of course, this is also dependent on specific grades and differs throughout the different tiers of school.
In the NCS upper school, although groups may be prominent they are not exclusive and they are consistently changing. Everyone may have their “friend group”; the people they invite to get before dances or to hang out with on the weekend. But, within the school, the groups become less defined and the culture shifts towards “everybody hangs out with everybody” at least in the 9th grade. There is nobody in school that does not have anyone to sit with in class or at lunch and there is nobody that will say that someone cannot sit with them. Not everyone is in a group, however. There may be people that are considered “floaters”. They don’t have a defined group but they are friends with everyone. Something that is significant to NCS is the feeling of community between everyone-even across grades. If your upset, anyone will come up to you and ask you what is wrong or try to comfort you. There are always little moments that people either feel excluded; maybe when their friends all join a team that they don’t or a club. But, overall the NCS community is inclusive, kind and willing to change. Another thing that makes the NCS community so inclusive socially is the different opportunities presented to meet different people. Whether it be a club, sport or class, students are constantly meeting new people. People would not have thought about getting to know if they were in soccer practice every day for a few hours during the fall semester. They meet and form a bond and instantly a new friend is made. When this happens all the time, in school, sports and extracurriculars, the NCS community becomes interconnected, close and bonded.
In middle school, it is a little different, particularly towards the seventh grade. The groups are clearly defined and people are more exclusive. At that time, emotions are heightened and little things are sometimes blown way out of proportion. Groups can be defined by group chats or even things as trivial as Secret Santa during the holidays. The air of competition is beginning to form abut grades and people are still figuring out who they are. It is at this time when group chats that exclude others begin to form. However, towards the eighth grade, friend groups begin to settle and people begin to branch out a bit more with that exclusive aspect fading towards upper school.
The inclusive social culture at NCS has a really big impact on its community. It provides a supportive backing throughout the upper school that helps students every single day. It creates a situation where nobody feels alone and everyone has someone to talk to.
by Will Nash '20
When you walk into the Refectory, the first thing that greets you are the oaken wood tables that hug the walls around the room. On these tables, approximately an hour before 1pm, napkins and silverware will be arranged neatly at each place. Salt and pepper shakers and a lone Texas Pete bottle will adorn the center of the table. A pitcher of water will be located at one end of the table, with a stack of plates at the other. As the clocks around the school near 1, students will begin streaming into the Refectory, laughing and talking to each other. They will stand next to their places at lunch, waiting expectantly. A microphone is tapped, a prayer is uttered, and chairs scrape back as students lunge towards plates of food while simultaneously attempting to sit down. St. Albans School lunch has begun.
Like at all schools, lunch at St. Albans is a very social time. However, unlike other schools, students at St. Albans have assigned seats at lunch. They can’t choose to sit with friends in their own grade; rather, they are given a table with eight or nine other guys from all different grades. For many, this may seem a nightmare of totalitarian rule, with the administration dictating how students spend their lunch time. This conception, however, couldn’t be farther from the truth.
This style of communal dining fosters conversation among students of all different ages, increasing cohesion among the different grades and leading to a stronger, more unified student body. At most schools, kids can choose where they eat and who they sit with. This can lead to the formation of cliches, and can also lead students to become exclusive with who they are friends with. At St. Albans, this doesn’t happen. Oftentimes, when the Refectory is closed for an event, and lunch is held in the Martin Gym, it can be amusing to watch students as they try to decide where to eat. Having been told which table to go to for their whole life, many wander around aimlessly holding their fried chicken patties, not sure of where to go. This, in the end, is a good thing. By not knowing exactly who to eat with, St. Albans students open themselves up to new experiences and meeting new people. Eating as a community, we don’t select who we eat with. Our tables are open to all.
by Kate Mabus '19
After the college admissions scandal earlier this year, I was scrolling through YouTube one day when a VICE News video with a picture of an STA alumus as the thumbnail caught my eye. In the video two groups of Yale students are interviewed: wealthier students from D.C. (including two Close alumni) and low-income students. During the video, an NCS alumna reflects that during her time at NCS she was on the lower end of the income spectrum and felt less affluent than many of her peers but transitioning to college she came to realize how great the means and privilege of every NCS students are in relationship to the rest of the country. I was surprised by this comment because I had never perceived nor had the slightest clue that this student was considered low-income for NCS.
This alumna’s insight reminded me of Andrea Escoto’s phenomenal Flag Day speech last year in which she shared her experience as a low-income student attending NCS and the feelings of exclusion and inadequacy it brought. Though I was blown away by how good Andrea’s speech was, its ability to move emotions in all of us, I must admit I had doubts about the exclusion she experienced. I am a staunch supporter of NCS and often disagree with the criticism many of us are so eager to give so I couldn’t imagine anyone being judged or excluded because of their income. Maybe because I wasn’t myself.
Through my years at NCS and in D.C., I have noticed a dynamic that the more affluent a group is the less likely they are to contemplate or speak on wealth across the board. Whether that is tripping around exposing your families wealth (whether lack or abundance) or describing yourself as “fortunate”. Because of this tendency, our perceptions become so jaded by the wealth bubble we’re surrounded by on the Close. Which leads us to go into college shocked at our own privilege like the NCS alumna or maybe inconsiderate of the struggle so many things we take for granted is for others. A friend of mine has a sister at UGA who said she would be laughed at for wearing Uggs or Airpods on campus while at NCS we have crossing guards at school that count how many Barbour jackets they see in a day.
However, another consequence is that there are students at NCS who feel excluded for their socio-economic status without their feelings being recognized by the greater community or even worse, as I was so eager to do before, invalidated. While I don’t think there is any blatant exclusion based on wealth there are small, every day scenarios which many think of shaping the “NCS experience” which add up. Like getting a $5 coffee at Open City during ensembles, your own Flag Day dress, driving into the garage in your personal car (let alone the luxury cars that many students have), and the money spent on class swag and spirit wear (which is of course optional but would any of us want to show up to Spirit Day in jeans and a t-shirt), and more than anything the college process.
These are things that I enjoy and which shape what I love about NCS. And, if you can’t afford them, then what does that mean about your inclusion in the community?
by Liza Peoples '20
When a typical NCS student imagines the social conservative, she may automatically think of the anti-LGBT+, sexist, medieval abortion bill supporting Christian straight white male from a rural county in Kentucky. This image is just as distorted as it is false. Even though the liberal-bubble that is the NCS community advocates for inclusive speech and the continual rupture of stereotypical representation of groups and individuals, for some reason it chooses to draw the line of inclusion at even an inkling of diversity of thought. The former representation of the perception of social conservatism at NCS may have been a slight extreme but it is not far from the truth.
For myself, I may be both socially and fiscally conservative, but unfortunately even for those who support identity politics and political correctness for every constructed thought, that does not make me a Nazi, a racist, a homophobe, or even a bigot. I am a libertarian, which basically means that I want government out of my life and out of everyone else’s life as long as said individual’s expression of freedom does not interfere with the freedom and rights of another individual. Following this definition, even a person who has religious objections to gay relationships could not logically deny them the right of civil union, especially since under our laws married couples have different legal standing when it comes to adoption, separation, and even taxes. Furthermore, just because I may support more traditional values, basically centralized on family, work ethic, and my own religious tradition, I by no means want to force any other individual to adhere to my goals and ambitions.
The disconnect that occurs between my understanding of conservatism and the narrative perpetuated by the average NCS student is largely based on a misinterpretation of the common buzzword terminology. I readily listen to opposing views, which there are plenty of at NCS, but just because I don’t automatically adhere to their point of view suddenly I become a bigot. The NCS liberal bubble causes the individual to assume that something that may just be the majority view in our community is automatically the norm, or even the requirement, everywhere. I quite enjoy discussing politics, but when nine other people will not even let me speak to substantiate my point because I am a “bigot” for not agreeing with them, that is no longer a debate, that is the purest possible example of bigotry.
I’ve had conversations with people by typing on the notes section of a phone and passing it back and forth because they are afraid that people will find out that they are pro-life, or maybe don’t support affirmative action. We would all like to say that we are brave, but what scares people is not the outright confrontations, but just the knowledge that people around them might consider them less kind, less accepting, less human all just because of false presumptions.
The resulting social alienation and downright derogatory rhetoric towards non-liberals on the close can be easily exemplified by the passing of the two pro-life legislation packages in Georgia and in Alabama. Instagram stories were littered with columns stating, “men shouldn’t be making laws about women’s bodies”, despite the Alabama bill being introduced by a female representative and signed into law by a female governor, and with an image with five cherry-picked despicable and disgusting quotes spoken in the past by five random republican representatives, none of which are from either Georgia or Alabama, and none of which have any relation to the current legislation posed for discussion. Don’t get me wrong, I am 100% for freedom of speech (as an ardent advocate of the constitution), and these people can and should post whatever they would like. However, such rhetoric paints the pro-life movement as a woman-hating, medieval, vindictive, and something that could only be accepted by the cruelest fringes of society. Meanwhile, abortion is actually a 48/48 issue, a fact skewed by the lack of perspective held on the close.
A significant portion of such attitudes unsurprisingly comes from both an intentional and unintentional agenda within the administration. We would all love to say that our opinions are original and come from intrinsic understanding of the world developed deep within our soul. Unfortunately for those idealists, our value systems are mostly constructed by our surroundings, partially from our parents and partially from other systems that surround us. From as early as fourth grade NCS students are taught that our school offers objective educational understanding of the world, and it is through this lens that students interpret driven opinions.
Such a perspective continuously invalidates the conservative point of view, a chief example being Diversity Forum. Under the guise of educational discussions, participants have the subconscious takeaway that physical diversity is more important than intellectual diversity. Don’t get me wrong, a completely valid view point, but it is one sided. If NCS wants to get participation up they need look no further than increasing the diversity of perspective, not based on identifiers that cannot be changed from birth, rather by what truly defines who we are inside, our values and our opinions.
If you take nothing else away, maybe consider that it is not an inclusive environment, or a “safe space” if you will, when someone cannot share a perspective seen by half of the US population without being seen as less of a person at NCS.