Springside Chestnut Hill Academy held its sixth annual “SCHout” diversity conference on Tuesday, January 23.
Springside Chestnut Hill Academy held its sixth annual “SCHout” diversity conference on Tuesday, January 23. SCH has hosted its annual SCHout Diversity Conference since 2014. It has been open to all high students and faculty from various schools. Due to COVID, the conference was virtual this year but still able to attract 200 participants.
In prior years SCHout has been attended by people eager to lean into deep conversations that are often uncomfortable but very necessary to have. Everyone feeds off of the energy from one another and there is a true sense of community in the air. Some attendees were concerned the energy this year wouldn’t be the same as in past, but for DEI Co-Head and SCH senior Finn Seifert, the participants managed to maintain the same levels of energy as if they were attending in-person.
“SCHout was a little different this year because it was virtual, but I still had a good time,” Seifert said. “I felt like nothing really changed besides the fact that we weren’t in person. The same energy was there, the people came because they were really passionate about the issues. So overall, I thought it was very fun.”
Naturally, preparing for SCHout was different this year as special accommodations had to be made for the online environment. We all know that when working with technology for a while you are bound to run into a few technical difficulties along the way. During an activity called “Who’s In the Room,” participants had to move to another Zoom link. Since Zoom meetings can only hold a max of 100 people and not everyone was able to fit.
“Stomach drop,” said SCHout Co-Director Victoria Stitt. “I knew this was going to happen and then immediately after that ‘ok, troubleshoot, what do I do now.’ But I was also really angry. I had a feeling something like that was going to happen and I just wish we had been more prepared for it somehow. Even if you can’t prepare for these things I still feel that you should be able to. So I was also mad.”
For DEI Co-Head and SCH senior, Morgan Ellison-Jones, she just had to roll with the punches as these types of things can happen when working with technology.
“Honestly things happen,” Ellison-Jones said. “At the end of the day, it what it is. It still was a great SCHout and everything worked out in the end.”
Seifert has attended SCHout since he was a sophomore and Ellison-Jones has attended SCHout since she was in eighth grade. During the course of their engagement, both have developed a passion for diversity work. They attribute SCHout with providing them with leadership skills and the opportunity to meet people with similar interests. Because Seifert and Ellison-Jones are seniors, this will be their final year with SCHout as they make the transition into college next year.
“It was bittersweet,” said Seifert. “It reminded me of all the work that I’ve been doing throughout high school, but now it’s like an end. So it was kinda sad and I really realized ‘oh wow, I’m not going to be here next year.’ But I think even though it was virtual it was still fun even though it was my last one.”
Ellison-Jones has been very involved in this year’s planning of SCHout. With numerous speaking roles, being co-head of DEI, and also leading her own workshop; SCHout has been different for Morgan in a special way.
“It felt very involved,” Ellison-Jones said. “This is my year being a SCHout homegroup leader and social action workshop leader while being head of DEI counsel. The experience was definitely different than previous years. It was a lot of fun trying to put the conference together. It feels like you’re making a difference because you’re so hands-on and involved.”
SCHout is usually full of students from all over and sprinkles of students from SCH here and there. One of the future goals for Stitt is to see more of the SCH community become more involved with SCHout.
“I want to see SCHout continue to get big,” Stitt said. “I’m excited for it to be in-person again...I hope that more SCH students attend. We had a good number this year outside of student facilitators attend. I was surprised to see students I wasn’t expecting to see there, but I would really like to see more SCH students see what all you guys [student facilitators] put together. And also kinda see where these Moments of Understanding and all those things come from as well; see how they work when people wake up on a Saturday morning to attend. I think that would be cool.”