Background on the September Student-to-student Communication Regarding Racial Justice and Anti-racism at JHS
What it discussed, how it came to be, and a link to the communication
October 16, 2020
Dear Parents and Guardians,
Earlier this school year, a group of Jesuit High School Sacramento current students authored a letter to their peers to address issues they have experienced on our campus and campus culture. This student-to-student communication was approved for distribution to all class years by the Jesuit High School Sacramento administration and was sent to their student emails on September 14, 2020. Like all students in our school, the student authors of the letter are supported by the administration and faculty at Jesuit Sacramento. The letter came from the students based on their experiences at our school. Also, other students and alumni have shared similar experiences on campus, which were noted in a series of listening sessions that took place over the summer. These listening sessions were open to all of our Jesuit community as noted in prior communications. Additionally, acknowledgment of these experiences were shared in an open message to our Jesuit community from President Rev. John P. McGarry, SJ, and Principal Michael Wood on June 19.
In hindsight, it would have been better had we shared this student-to-student communication promptly with the parents and guardians, as we are all joined in partnership to support our young men’s education, development, and future as Men for Others. We apologize that the delay in sharing this letter directly with parents has distracted us from the letter’s content and the important student perspective that it provides.
The letter asks that students not use racial or homophobic slurs and asks the administration to create a “strict guideline to prevent” future incidents. Students and alumni have shared how this affects their ability to learn and participate in the Jesuit community. These students want to feel safe from “hateful words.”
The letter also asks that teachers, administrators, counselors, and coaches listen with intentionality, not to solve a problem. In the past years that I have worked at Jesuit Sacramento, mental health and suicide have been a serious issue, and our community has been heavily affected. The students are aware of this and are seeking support from trusted adults on campus.
The next point they address is community involvement and what parents, families, and alumni can do to help students feel safe. These authors of the letter realize that families and alumni play a major part in helping our students become Men for Others. They ask that the community align itself with the mission, values, and goals of Jesuit High School Sacramento.
Lastly, these students write about the content in their classes and seek a more diverse educational experience in learning about people from all over the world. As a Jesuit institution, we are rooted in the Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm, which seeks to provide content, experience, reflection, action, and evaluation. When students have these discussions, attend Mass, join school clubs, go on immersion trips, and participate in community service, they are “developing a fuller understanding of self and the world, and in service of helping that world.” That is one of the main goals of the Profile of the Graduate at Graduation, “Grad at Grad,” where every Jesuit student is encouraged and guided on developing those qualities by graduation and living them throughout one’s whole life.
These integral facets of Jesuit Sacramento and the Catholic Social Teaching we employ make our school unique by addressing issues that affect our students.
I hope these words and resources can continue to create a constructive dialogue to develop a deeper understanding of all of our students’ needs.
The original email to students with their student-authored letter can be read here.
Director of Equity and Inclusion
Director of Educational Technology