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School Hosts BLISS Conference

School Hosts BLISS Conference

School Hosts BLISS Conference


Students attend the BLISS Conference.

Contributing Writer

April 13, 2023

Emily Hellqvist '24

On April 2, the school hosted the annual BLISS (Black Link of Independent Schools Summit) conference. The goal of the conference is to allow African American students from different boarding schools—Deerfield, Salisbury, and Berkshire—to come together to speak about their experiences. The night before the opening ceremony, students from these schools in New England came to Lakeville, to enjoy a dance hosted by the Black and Hispanic Student Alliance (BaHSA). This year, the Summit was organized by Sydney Jean ’23 and Richie Mamam-Nbiba ’23.

The opening ceremony offered student remarks and performances by the Calliope a cappella group and the Step Team. Following that, students chose from eight workshops held throughout the day.

Abigail Gugsa ’24, Emilie Clitus ’24, and Leanna Wells ’23, ran a workshop called “The Privileged Poor,” which was modeled after Harvard professor Dr. Anthony Jack’s speech at the school on February 17. Participants watched Jack’s Ted Talk and discussed the privilege that comes with attending elite college-preparatory schools when compared to other low-income or disenfranchised peers (“the doubly disadvantaged”) coming from schools with less resources.

Examples of other workshops hosted by students included a tutorial on making waist beads, an introduction to step dance, and a discussion on race and hook-up culture at boarding schools.

The idea and initial planning for the conference actually began before 2020, organized by Obi Okoli ’20, Miles Brewster ’20, Ashley Williams ’21, Dubem Anwunah ’20, and Dr. Rachel Myers, former director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. However, the pandemic caused the conference to be delayed until Jean and Mamam-Nbiba took over the project in the spring of 2022.

Lily Yawand-Wossen ’24 who participated in this year’s BLISS conference by organizing a poetry workshop focusing on writing about experiences in boarding school, is grateful for the return of the conference. She said, “It was great to interact with others with similar experiences as me, who are also trying to figure out their identity.”

Emily Hellqvist is a contributing writer for The Record.

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Editor's Note: This article was recovered from The Record's online archive. There may be stylistic and visual errors that interrupt the reading experience, as well as missing photos. To read this article as it appeared in print, view our print archives.

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Editorials are written by members of The Record's Executive Board. They typically center on issues related to the school or student life on campus.

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