Last week, six Upper School students and five faculty and staff members headed to St. Louis for the National Association of Independent Schools' annual Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC) and People of Color Conference (PoCC), respectively, where more than 8,000 participants from independent schools around the country connected and developed new understanding and skills through keynote speaker sessions, workshops, and more.

SDLC allows students to focus on self-reflection, allyship, and building community, with guidance from a team of trained adult and peer facilitators, per the NAIS website. "This type of space is greatly needed, feels like a breath of fresh air, and gives participants access to activities that are carefully chosen to reflect their own life experiences," said Director of Equity Ian Tatum. This year's theme was "Bending the Arc Toward Justice: Radical Optimism, Transformational Joy, Resilience, and Brilliance."

"Westridge has a history of sending personnel and students to SDLC and PoCC," said Tatum. "After returning from the trip, several of our students and staff members attest that the experience was life-affirming, if not life-changing, as they felt heard, seen, and validated by others who work in and attend independent schools." 

Kanon I. '26 said attending this year’s conference felt like a milestone in her life—and that she blossomed and learned about herself in her affinity group. "I was looking at people who had the exact same experience as me," she said. Reflecting on what she learned there, Kanon said she is looking forward to listening to others more. "We're always taught to be individualistic and speak our opinion and voices, but we hardly listen to what others have to say," she explained. “I realize I need to listen more. It’s less about what I want to put out into the world, and more about listening to what other people have to say and empathize.”