Affinity groups provide students who do not identify as part of the dominant culture with opportunities to develop healthy self-identity and build relationships within and beyond the group. They also allow all students to share experiences and strategies that lead to greater inclusion and integration within the broader community. Additionally, they help to minimize the effects of isolation on mental wellbeing and academic performance.
The mission of Common Threads is to provide students an affirming space within Holton to explore and celebrate the dimensions of their identities in order to uplift and empower them towards action and positive change in the world. The L.O.V.E. curriculum is at the center of this program designed to help students from minoritized communities examine oppressive systems of power and privilege, and claim their connection with anti-racist resistors throughout history.
The L.O.V.E. Based Curriculum
The following principles are the framework on which the Common Threads Program is built:
- Looking Inside Oneself - Develop self-awareness; investigate my identity, worth, and purpose; empower and nurture myself; conduct a social-emotional check-in and decide when I need to nurture, recharge, or empower myself
- Others and How I Intersect - Investigate the intersections of my identities and my relationships with the identities of others
- Valuing Our Experiences - Build community, grow together, and hold each other accountable
- Executing Positive Actions - Learn how to navigate and positively change the climate of the community inside and outside of the school
Lower & Middle School Common Threads: SOC
We introduced affinity groups for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) students in response to feedback from various school constituencies. The National Association of Independent Schools defines people of color as individuals who are permanent residents or U.S. citizens and belong to one of the following racial/ethnic groups: African American, Latino/Hispanic American, Asian American/South Asian, Native American, Middle Eastern American, Multiracial American, and Pacific Islander.
Lower & Middle School Shalom
Students who identify as Jewish and would like to participate in Common Threads are sent an interest survey. LS Shalom meets monthly during the school day. At these meetings, students have the opportunity to engage in positive identity development activities that center around their common identifiers.
Middle School Spectrum
Due to great interest from parents and students, we introduced Middle School Common Threads: Spectrum. Unlike the affinity spaces in the Common Threads program, this group will be an allied space for LGBTQIA+ students and allies. Students in this group learn more about gender and sexuality, access resources, build community, and support each other in the development of positive identity.