On Monday, September 18th, youth and adults from the Winooski community met to kick off year four of the Antiracism Steering Committee (ARSC). This team is tasked with implementing the six demands of the Winooski Students for Antiracism (WSA): to form a truth and reconciliation committee, hire and retain more faculty of color, establish a multilingual mentoring program, implement an ethnic studies curriculum,  conduct an equity audit of the school, and host a yearly workshop for students where they can learn about their civil rights.

UP for Learning has been a partner in this work since the school board accepted the demands in July 2020, and this year, after meeting with new superintendent Wilmer Chavarria, we decided to change up the structure of the ARSC. In the past three years, the steering committee has served as a “hub” for the separate Action Teams focused on the six demands, hearing monthly updates, offering feedback and resources, and helping to guide their next steps. This year, the ARSC will be meeting twice a month, rather than once, and its members will hold the work themselves. Previous leaders and members of the six Action Teams have joined the ARSC, and we are so grateful to have their guidance and support as the year begins.

During their first meeting, the members of the ARSC  took part in  community building activities and spent time completing their stipends and tax forms (as all of this important work is compensated by the district). They also filled out a survey given by middle school math teacher Maeve Poleman, who has been leading the Action Team focused on establishing a multilingual mentoring program at the school, asking for guidance on the team’s next steps. 

At the next meeting, the ARSC will take a deep dive into the history of the work, and will learn about the details of each of the six demands, and where each team left off last year. Each member will also consider which of the demands they would like to focus on as the year begins. 

We are particularly excited to add new Winooski School board member Isaiah Donaldson to both the ARSC and our planning team. His ability to represent the committee at monthly school board meetings will be invaluable as the work moves from research and exploration to action and implementation. The planning team also includes Director of Early Learning, Maybeline Lopez, Winooski alum and Youth Program Specialist Evelyn Monje, and former Winooski student Auishma Pradhan, now a junior at South Burlington High School, and a youth facilitator with UP.

The ARSC is made up of an incredible group of passionate community members, and we can’t wait to see how this new structure, as well as more frequent meetings, help to expedite its progress this year. For more information about the history and work of the Winooski Antiracism Steering Committee, please visit this website