November 16, 201611/16/2016Dear da Vinci Parents and Families,At da Vinci we are “Safe, Fair, and Friendly.” Since the election, locally and nationally our guiding premise has been challenged. PLEASE KNOW, that as an inclusive community we model and live to empower our students to make choices that honor and celebrate our differences and ensure that we ALL feel safe and welcome.We strongly believe in the power of art, to inspire, and teach us to embrace multiple perspectives that support the uniqueness of each of us in a respectful manner. It is through compassion, empathy, active listening and cooperation that together we create and sustain a community that is support and safe for everyone.We are working together to support positive change. On Monday, I visited classrooms and asked staff to share the inspiring words of two or our graduates. Lilly Sasse, Grant Student Body President, and Christina Depinto, Grant Vice Student Body President, who worked hard all weekend with district administrators to craft a message of hope. We shared the following excerpt from the Portland Metro High School Youth Alliance:"We need to be strategic in the way we voice our frustration and passion and to do this, it will take planning. It is also important that we organize in a way that allows every student, teacher and community member to be involved without feeling alienated. Leaving our valued education is not the way to send that message. Again, we are strongly discouraging students from participating in the walkout as we have come up with a call to action that involves positivity moving forward. The reality is this isn’t ending now, our work has just begun. This political climate will be our reality for the next 4 years, so let’s unite, support and protect each other. This is our voice. This is our future.
We will start within our schools, gaining traction to reach a point where students, district wide, can physically come together all the while staying on track with our message of strength, security, and unity. We hope to send our message nationwide to sister districts in other major cities. Our message is strong, and it continues to gain strength as it gains support. We must start somewhere in order to grow and we encourage each and every student’s involvement.
Student Body President, Lilly Sasse and Student Body Vice President, Christina DePinto” (Please see attached to read the whole Statement)
A few students did participate in the protest. To reassure students that at da Vinci they are safe, loved and protected, teachers did a great job. Here is one example from English Language Arts teacher Jasmine Spiegel who wrote her students a letter (Excerpts shared with permission).
"To My Students,
First, you may not need this letter. That’s okay. I felt I needed to write it, mostly so I could make sure you all know the following four things. You are loved. You are not alone. I am here to help. I am here to protect you. If I could say these things to you a million times, I would…
(To read then entire letter please see the attached).
I shared a similar sentiment with the students I spoke with on Monday and today, at the conclusion of our Macbeth Teaser, I will reinforce that sentiment. As a school learning community, we use restorative practices so that we are supporting all students, and helping them to consistently make informed and respectful choices. This is ongoing serious work helps us grow positively as a community that cares and celebrates the well-being and importance of each individual in our arts focus setting. Together, we will continue to make da Vinci a safe place for every student and staff member.
Today, at 3:00 and 3:15 respectively, our QSA and our BSU and Students of Color meet.
Tomorrow, Thursday students are encouraged to participate in a District wide unity day by wearing black.
Friday: will be Post-it Note Positivity — Throughout the day (Before School, Lunch, and After School) students may stop by the Cafeteria and write a positive message that’ll be put up around the school.
TONIGHT at 7:00 in the Library, ALL are WELCOME, to discuss the impact of race in our lives and the lives of your children at da Vinci.
—What does it take to empower ALL students to feel safe and secure throughout their school day?
THANK YOU FOR YOUR CHILDREN. Please know we are committed to doing everything we can to help your child have an AWESOME da Vinci experience that challenges and supports them to be their best each day!