—Sam Wang 21’
As St. Mark’s School seeks the best way to support students on campus, in addition to advisors, dorm parents, teachers, and coaches, the school also developed the Pathways program to promote community and equity. Our Pathways program promotes awareness around cultural differences and provides affinity opportunities for students whose social or identity needs do not belong to the mainstream at St. Mark’s. This program is the umbrella under which all student affinity groups are housed. In the 2018-19 academic year, we had 11 affinity groups listed below.
Asian Student Alliance
Men are Not Born; They are Made
Gender and Sexuality Alliance
Christian Fellowship Group
Black Lions Union
One to three student leaders of each group organize monthly meetings, all-school activities, and Pathways Pizza -- the joint meeting with other groups. They serve as an active support structure for students who do not fit into the dominant culture at St. Mark’s.
Pathways Prefects this year were Connor Browder 19’, Jenny Tang 20’, June Seong 19’, and Kennedy Petties 19’. They are the student voice for C&E and the friendly faces to talk to about issues and questions of community and equity at St. Mark's. They host the weekly C&E Minute during school meetings and assist the C&E Director on group-related logistics. As C&E programs made great progress this year -- more pathways activities were designed and more students became involved -- our prefects reflect on their experience and give advice to future pathways leaders:
Jenny Tang 20’:
“I really enjoy being a Pathways Prefect because I love learning about different people and bringing them together. I think it's fascinating how different individuals are in our cultures and backgrounds but also how similar we are in our shared humanity. Also, being an immigrant and straddling the lines between two cultures, the mission of helping people understand our differences to unite communities feels quite personal to me. I think our school's C&E program has come a long way since I have been here. I am very grateful for Ms. Adams’s and Ms. Starry's leadership and mentorship, and I love the progress we made this year in making C&E Day more student-led and engaging a greater part of the school community in Pathways meetings and activities. There are still a lot more to be done, but that's why I look forward to being a Pathways Prefect again next year.”
Connor Browder 19’:
“What makes me really proud is how I worked as a team with other prefects. Being the only boy in the team, I felt a little outcasted at first. I got to know them as I worked with them on different problems in community and equity affairs. We weren’t able to find a compromise among our ideas until I improved my teamwork skills. I believe that all pathways leaders need to learn how to work as a team; you want to make sure you all contribute to your affinity group equally and participate in the pathways meetings. One thing I wish I could have fulfilled is to integrate the males in our school more into the pathways program. The men’s group has done an awesome job this year, and their discussions were truly beneficial to the St.Mark’s community. But I still think the males at our school are just not as involved as most females are. I wish boys in our community would have more passion for promoting community and equity. I wish I facilitated that a little better this year.”
Kennedy Petties 19’:
“Since my freshman year, there is a really big shift in how we view C&E work -- it is no longer something that is painful for people to do. There are more people who truly devote themselves to this, and the whole community becomes more willing to sit down and have hard conversations. Besides C&E Day, cultural fairs, and other events that allow students to freely express their identities, there are now at least 35 student leaders and tons of faculty putting up all the affinity groups and spaces that students work together on issues of intersectionality. I think what makes me really proud is the development of the C&E program at St. Mark’s and the way we look at it. It is no longer hard, it is something that we want. Therefore, I would tell every single pathways leader to do C&E work because they love it. If you are really passionate about C&E, speak up and do something different, and don’t complain but give advice. If you don’t like the way the affinity group meeting is run, go talk to the head and seek new changes. Do [C&E] because you love it, not because someone requires you.”
Thanks for all the hard work the prefects have done in the past year! They all did an amazing job in promoting St. Mark’s to be a safer and more diverse place. Next year, the new pathways prefects are Jenny Tang 20’, Naila Strong 20’, Felicity Keyzer-Pollard 21’, and Sam Wang 21’. Congratulations to the new prefects and let’s look forward to a better C&E program in the future!
(One of the 2018-19 pathways prefect, June Seong, isn’t involved in the interview part because she left early to Lions Roars in Spain.)