Celebrating our Diversity
One of the strongest assets of Warren Township High School District 121 is our diverse student body and school community. Many of the goals which drive our District’s current strategic plan are focused on diversity and inclusion priorities. One of our current belief statements is that “We believe that student growth and achievement are maximized when we unleash the power of our inclusive and diverse culture.”
Specifically, the following goals are identified in the 2018-19 Strategic Plan.
- Expand efforts to build a diverse community of respect in additional curricular areas outside of English and Social Studies.
- Initiate a diversity committee for staff members with an interest and expertise in diversity and inclusion outside of the formal professional development training to all staff and/or specific departments.
- Identify formal processes to support recruitment of a diverse pool of staff candidates. Increasing the diversity our staff will foster opportunities for all students to make connections with adult mentors.
- Continue to support inclusive student groups including, but not limited to, Unite 'N Inform, Avanza, Muslim Student Association and Black Student Union. Expand upon our current student diversity retreat.
- Dedicate a website page to highlight diversity and inclusion initiatives offered in our school community.
- Continue to build a diverse community of respect and acceptance through our Parent Diversity Committee.
The Board of Education continues to review and update our initiatives and make diversity and inclusion a top priority and listed below are opportunities for students, staff, parents and our community.
Parent Diversity Committee
Beginning with the 2016-17 school year, a group of approximately 30 parents and community members have met quarterly to examine ways of working with our staff on diversity initiatives. Specifically, this Board of Education Committee reviews our progress on our strategic plan goals, explores ways of reinforcing inclusion within the community at-large, and supports the diversity work of our students and student groups. This includes helping sponsor our WTHS Diversity booth at Gurnee Days for the last two summers.
Beginning with the 2017-18 school year, WTHS staff have been involved in ongoing professional development as it pertains to creating and maintaining a culture of respect and inclusion. Departments have had training on culturally sensitive dialogue, curriculum content and materials have been reviewed for cultural sensitivity, and all staff have participated in an orientation regarding general biases. Additionally, athletic coaches attended a separate training on establishing inclusive cultures within their respective athletic programs.
Staff Diversity Committee
Beginning with the 2018-19 school year, approximately 30 staff members who expressed an interest or expertise with our diversity work, have been meeting monthly to examine best practices in the classrooms regarding inclusion. The committee is doing a book study on the book: Being the Change by Sara Ahmed.
Topics of our discussion include strategies to explore and affirm identities and to build the skill of active listening. We have also discussed the challenges of social comprehension and experiences and challenges we face in being culturally responsive in our classroom. We plan to dive into topics like microagressions, bias, and becoming more informed this semester.
Student Diversity Retreats
Beginning with the 2017-18 school year, WTHS started facilitating retreats for students focused on awareness and individual growth related to diversity and inclusion issues. These all-day retreats have occurred on non-attendance days and have provided for an opportunity for students to learn about historical perspectives and how they impact our community and world today. Our staff, administration and volunteer parents have helped to support and facilitate these events alongside Mr. Moreano and B.R.I.D.G.E.S.
Partnering with B.R.I.D.G.E.S. Consulting, LLC
For the last few years, WTHS has partnered with Roger Moreano of B.R.I.D.G.E.S. Consulting, LLC, in many of our staff and student training opportunities.
Unite 'N Inform
Our mission is to unite students of all races, genders, sexualities, abilities, and backgrounds to learn about current social issues, stopping hate, and uniting with our peers to stand up together. Staff sponsors are Tracey Ankney, Lynn Otterson and Beryl Washington at the Almond Campus and Joy Olenick and Laura Tibey at the O'Plaine Campus.
Black Student Union
The Black Student Union brings recognition to the black community and celebrates black culture with all students who are interested. The pillars of BSU are community, advancement, recognition and celebration. BSU meets on Tuesdays at the O’Plaine Cafeteria. Staff sponsors are Michele Bertola and Diallo Brown.
AVANZA is a student organization focused on promoting Latino leadership and cultural awareness. We offer community service, fundraising, cultural experiences, and various other events. Students meet once a month in the O'Plaine Lecture Hall. Staff sponsors are Luz Bravo and Lina Rangel.
The Pride Club supports allies and LGBTQ students. Students meet every week at the O'Plaine Campus in Room 103. Staff sponsor is Paulette Lidskin.
The International Club is a student organization that highlights cultures from around the world. The club is open to any student and generally meets every other Wednesday in the O’Plaine Cafeteria. The International Club also sponsors the annual Super Show in January; an internationally themed variety show featuring live student performances. Staff sponsor is Heather Stewart.