By Drew Theoni, Youth Member of the LNSU Equity Design Team

On Thursday, June 6th, the Lamoille North Supervisory Union (LNSU) Equity Design Team spent the day at Lamoille Union Middle School facilitating activities with students. The activities focused on social justice terms and definitions, and were meant to educate the youth on words they may have never seen before, or words they did not yet know the meanings to. The facilitators of the Equity Design Team made sure to include all students of the middle school by splitting into groups and having one facilitator join each school team. They prepared half hour activities to match with the short classes in the middle school and with the intention of keeping students engaged. 

The activities and lessons started and ended with short community building  games to keep the students focused. The main activity was the “Social Justice Block Party,” where printed out strips of paper were used that had different definitions of  Social Justice terms on them. These terms come  from the glossary of Tiffany Jewell’s book, This Book is Antiracist. Some examples of these terms are  bias, microaggressions, calling in/calling out, and neurodivergent. Students would choose a term and would find a partner to read the definition to. After taking turns reading they would switch words and continue this process with the objective being for the youth to learn social justice vocabulary they may have never heard or learned before. 

After the activity the team facilitated an open discussion about the words the students had just learned. Some of the questions the team asked were, “What was a new word you learned today?” and “Why is it important to build our awareness of vocabulary, specifically social justice vocabulary?” Many students seemed to understand the questions and give insightful responses, while others chose to pass. 

Overall, the Equity Design Team had a very positive trip to the Lamoille Union Middle School with many engaged students. Some feedback from teachers was that some students struggled with the reading aspects of the activity and thought simplifying the definitions and giving examples would support readers at all levels. Another thought was that we could expand the activity even further when we do it again and make it more like an actual “block party” with food and displays. The LNSD Equity Design Team is excited to continue this activity in the future, and is thinking about ways to expand and improve it from the feedback we received. 

Drew Thoeni is a freshman at Lamoille Union High School, and this is her first year being a part of the LNSU Equity Design Team. She is very passionate about social justice, and while in middle school she and a few of her friends, along with Maria Davies, created the Social Justice Committee (SJC) to help with inclusivity at Lamoille Union Middle School. Drew also loves writing articles, and in 2020 she published an article for the News and Citizen. When she isn’t writing, you can see her in many local theater productions or hanging out with her sister.