A coeducational day school serving students JK-12

Hopeful. Excited. Inspired. These are just some of the words that described the way students, faculty and staff felt after participating in the conversations and presentations during Latin’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Commemoration on Wednesday, January 20.

Upper school students began the morning at assembly with an inspirational rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by J. Rosamond Johnson and James Weldon Johnson sung by Latin’s upper school chorus. 

The assembly was anchored by the amplification of student voices answering thought-provoking questions. Upper school affinity groups, including Black Student Union (BSU), Latin American Student Organization (LASO), Chronic Illness and Disability Alliance (CIDA), LGBTQ+ Affinity, Asian Student Alliance (ASA) and White Identities and Anti-Racism Affinity (WIAA), discussed their answers to the question, “What would an equitable and inclusive community look like at Latin?”

Learn more about Latin’s institutional goals and action steps for DEI from Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Eleannor Maajid in this episode of the Latin Learner Podcast. Co-Head of LASO and junior at Latin Caroline C. ’22 echoed the sentiment that many affinity groups offered in their reflection of the question: “An inclusive and equitable community to me acknowledges that from the start this institution might look very different to new incoming students but makes an effort to make everyone aware that their culture shouldn’t define whether they speak up in class or not or be given looks down the halls. No one should be told to tone down their culture.”

The student groups also answered these questions: “Why is it vital for students to be able to organize? How do equity-focused student groups improve community and hold them accountable?” The upper school’s Student Diversity and Equity Committee (SDEC) and Demanding Accountability groups provided insight into this area. SDEC is dedicated to fostering a safe, inclusive environment at Latin and promotes dialogue across all perspectives. Demanding Accountability is a group focused on holding the Latin community accountable for creating the space that the community says they want Latin to be.

These student groups noted that student organizing is important because they have a relevant perspective with insight into injustices that sometimes only students can see. Co-head of Demanding Accountability Kazi S. ’22 was quoted during the presentation, “When students aim for equity, we can be the prosperity of not only ourselves but everyone around us.” When students aim for equity, we can be the prosperity of not only ourselves but everyone around us.
Kazi S. '22, Co-head of Demanding Accountability

In continuing with the assembly’s theme of amplifying student voices some of the other student groups that presented included Student Government, Identity Coalition for Latin (ICFL), “Discourses” and “The Forum.” An inspirational morning concluded with remarks from English Teacher and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Coordinator Brandon Woods: “We stand ready to listen to you, to partner with you and most importantly, to be challenged by you. You have the ability to make change that you might not even know yourselves, so we stand ready to help you do that and for you to guide us and lead us.”

During the middle school assembly, Educational Consultant Dr. Derrick Gay leveraged Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s iconic "What Is Your Life's Blueprint?" speech to frame Latin’s 2020 I can practice peace.
I can try again, rather than give up.
I can care for my community. 
Mindful affirmations from the book "I Can Do Hard Things" by Gabi Garcia
Middle School Climate Assessment findings. "The idea was to invite you to reflect on your life's blueprint, meaning who you are, your actions, your behaviors, your legacy, your purpose and how we can link your purpose to creating a more inclusive school... a more inclusive world," Dr. Gay explained to the students. He also noted that this speech was written by Dr. King for middle school students. Hear more about the history behind the speech and listen to an excerpt.


In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., lower school students engaged in various peace-related activities during the month of January. They also participated in an all-lower school read of “I Can Do Hard Things” by Gabi Garcia. As part of the MLK Day commemoration, students selected a personal photograph or designed an affirmation poster that connected to one of the following lines from the book:

  • “I can practice peace.” What is something peaceful you do for yourself or for others?
  • “I can try again, rather than give up.” What is something challenging (a “hard thing”) that you are learning to do or have learned to do? 
  • “I can care for my community.” What is something that reflects a way that you contribute to or care for your community?

At the lower school assembly, students listened to Dr. Gay read “I Can Do Hard Things” and then watched a video featuring the photos and student work.

Lower school students

Although the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Commemoration at Latin looked much different this year than in years past, students, faculty and staff found a sense of hope, excitement and inspiration from the day’s events.

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A Dose of Inspiration: Latin Honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in a Day of Commemoration

Hopeful. Excited. Inspired. These are just some of the words that described the way students, faculty and staff felt after participating in the conversations and presentations during Latin’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Commemoration on Wednesday, January 20.

Upper school students began the morning at assembly with an inspirational rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by J. Rosamond Johnson and James Weldon Johnson sung by Latin’s upper school chorus. 

The assembly was anchored by the amplification of student voices answering thought-provoking questions. Upper school affinity groups, including Black Student Union (BSU), Latin American Student Organization (LASO), Chronic Illness and Disability Alliance (CIDA), LGBTQ+ Affinity, Asian Student Alliance (ASA) and White Identities and Anti-Racism Affinity (WIAA), discussed their answers to the question, “What would an equitable and inclusive community look like at Latin?”

Learn more about Latin’s institutional goals and action steps for DEI from Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Eleannor Maajid in this episode of the Latin Learner Podcast. Co-Head of LASO and junior at Latin Caroline C. ’22 echoed the sentiment that many affinity groups offered in their reflection of the question: “An inclusive and equitable community to me acknowledges that from the start this institution might look very different to new incoming students but makes an effort to make everyone aware that their culture shouldn’t define whether they speak up in class or not or be given looks down the halls. No one should be told to tone down their culture.”

The student groups also answered these questions: “Why is it vital for students to be able to organize? How do equity-focused student groups improve community and hold them accountable?” The upper school’s Student Diversity and Equity Committee (SDEC) and Demanding Accountability groups provided insight into this area. SDEC is dedicated to fostering a safe, inclusive environment at Latin and promotes dialogue across all perspectives. Demanding Accountability is a group focused on holding the Latin community accountable for creating the space that the community says they want Latin to be.

These student groups noted that student organizing is important because they have a relevant perspective with insight into injustices that sometimes only students can see. Co-head of Demanding Accountability Kazi S. ’22 was quoted during the presentation, “When students aim for equity, we can be the prosperity of not only ourselves but everyone around us.” When students aim for equity, we can be the prosperity of not only ourselves but everyone around us.
Kazi S. '22, Co-head of Demanding Accountability

In continuing with the assembly’s theme of amplifying student voices some of the other student groups that presented included Student Government, Identity Coalition for Latin (ICFL), “Discourses” and “The Forum.” An inspirational morning concluded with remarks from English Teacher and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Coordinator Brandon Woods: “We stand ready to listen to you, to partner with you and most importantly, to be challenged by you. You have the ability to make change that you might not even know yourselves, so we stand ready to help you do that and for you to guide us and lead us.”

During the middle school assembly, Educational Consultant Dr. Derrick Gay leveraged Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s iconic "What Is Your Life's Blueprint?" speech to frame Latin’s 2020 I can practice peace.
I can try again, rather than give up.
I can care for my community. 
Mindful affirmations from the book "I Can Do Hard Things" by Gabi Garcia
Middle School Climate Assessment findings. "The idea was to invite you to reflect on your life's blueprint, meaning who you are, your actions, your behaviors, your legacy, your purpose and how we can link your purpose to creating a more inclusive school... a more inclusive world," Dr. Gay explained to the students. He also noted that this speech was written by Dr. King for middle school students. Hear more about the history behind the speech and listen to an excerpt.


In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., lower school students engaged in various peace-related activities during the month of January. They also participated in an all-lower school read of “I Can Do Hard Things” by Gabi Garcia. As part of the MLK Day commemoration, students selected a personal photograph or designed an affirmation poster that connected to one of the following lines from the book:

  • “I can practice peace.” What is something peaceful you do for yourself or for others?
  • “I can try again, rather than give up.” What is something challenging (a “hard thing”) that you are learning to do or have learned to do? 
  • “I can care for my community.” What is something that reflects a way that you contribute to or care for your community?

At the lower school assembly, students listened to Dr. Gay read “I Can Do Hard Things” and then watched a video featuring the photos and student work.

Lower school students

Although the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Commemoration at Latin looked much different this year than in years past, students, faculty and staff found a sense of hope, excitement and inspiration from the day’s events.

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Grid method in action

The Grid Method is a way of teaching that has proven successful in many classrooms at Latin across the middle school.

The Grid Method is an instructional framework for standards-based, mastery learning that is used in several science classes, language arts classes and language classes. Working from recognized standards, teachers create a grid of assignments and assessments for students to work through at their own pace. These assignments increase in complexity, from basic vocabulary up to higher-level thinking.

Grid method in action

A middle school science classroom has students working on a variety of activities according to the grid: some students are reading the materials; some students are building models of viruses; while some are researching them; some students are reading text materials; and some are working on the lab portion of the project.

Listen to Clara D. '26 describe her experience with a science project following the Grid Method. Along each step of the way, students need to show competency or mastery before moving up to the next level. This method allows students to work at their own pace and get individualized attention from the teacher when they need it. Students who master concepts quickly are able to forge ahead and do independent advanced work, whereas students who need more time are able to take it, within reason. Perhaps surprisingly, this method allows for a lot of personalized learning and one-on-one time with the teacher during class time, in small bursts right when the student is ready for it. Teachers monitor student progress for interventions and provide real-time feedback. It's an engaging way to meet the needs of all the learners in the classroom.  

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I Am Every Good Thing book

“I Am Every Good Thing” by Derrick Barnes, a book full of nourishing words and illustrations, was chosen as the lower school’s all-school read this year.

Written as a poem, "I Am Every Good Thing" encourages young readers to celebrate everything that makes you, YOU. This book affirms that kids can achieve anything they want to achieve and that it's okay for kids to make mistakes. It concludes with a beautiful message at the end:

"I am worthy of success, of respect, of safety, of kindness, of happiness. And without a shadow of a doubt, I am worthy to be loved." I am worthy of success, of respect, of safety, of kindness, of happiness. And without a shadow of a doubt, I am worthy to be loved.
"I Am Every Good Thing" by Derrick Barnes

On Thursday, October 15, all lower school students were excited to attend a virtual author visit with Barnes. Check out his presentation on the Lower School Library page on RomanNet.

Derrick Barnes author visit

Derrick Barnes, author of "I Am Every Good Thing," joined lower school students for a virtual author visit.

During a workshop over the summer, lower school teachers discussed "I Am Every Good Thing" and what ways the words and images will resonate with their students. They also talked about the concept of windows, mirrors and sliding glass doors in books best described by National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) member Rudine Sims Bishop, "Books are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that may be real or imagined, familiar or strange. These windows are also sliding glass doors, and readers have only to walk through in imagination to become part of whatever world has been created and recreated by the author." Their reflection on this concept included a series of questions:

Who in your class will identify with the characters & storyline? (mirrors)

What will other students learn from the characters & storyline? (windows)

How will this create a deeper understanding of the world? (sliding glass doors)

Classroom activities will include deeper dives into the affirmations in "I Am Every Good Thing," relating to our school year's theme, Nourish.

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Graphic about intersectionality

According to Psychologist Beverly Daniel Tatum, identity is shaped by individual characteristics, family dynamics, historical factors, and social and political contexts. However, the concept of identity can be complex because the answer to “who am I?” largely depends on who the word around me says I am. (For more information on Tatum’s work, please refer to this essay, “The Complexity of Identity: Who Am I?”
Students at Latin begin learning about identity as early as junior kindergarten. In addition to thinking about the question, “who am I?”, young students begin building an understanding of intersectionality, a term used to describe how race, class, gender and other individual characteristics “intersect” with each other.

An exercise that helped prepare Latin’s lower school teachers for working through conversations around identity and intersectionality with students was thinking about this series of questions:

“How do you identify yourself? And͑ what is the most important part of your identity? Is it your sex, your race or ethnicity, your sexual orientation, your class status, your nationality, your religious affiliation, your age, your physical or cognitive abilities, your political beliefs? Is there one part of your identity that stands out from the rest or does your identity change depending on who you’re with, what you’re involved in, where you are in your life?” (SOURCE: Critical Media Project)

In the classroom, students have been working on creating identity maps and writing “I Am” poems and talking about “single stories.” Ask your student about the classroom discussions they are having related to these topics.