Rev. Naomi Washinton-Leaphart

Springside Chestnut Hill Academy (SCH) is proud to sponsor its 5th annual SCHout Conference this Saturday, Jan. 25, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The all-day conference, led by SCH high school facilitators, will draw together more than 250 students and faculty from schools around the region. 

Each year, the school’s student diversity leaders choose a theme for a collection of activities and student-led social action workshops dealing with issues of identity and social justice. This year’s compelling theme asks: “If Not Now, When? If Not Us, Who?” and will strive to imbue students with a sense of urgency to connect, collaborate and take action for social justice. 

The program kicks-off with a well-known, local keynote speaker: Rev. Naomi Washington-Leapheart.  A pastor, professor of religion at Villanova University, director of Faith-Based and Interfaith Affairs in the Philadelphia Mayor’s Office of Public Engagement, she is a dynamic and powerful speaker who will be talking about the importance of wholeness and wellbeing in social justice work.  

After the keynote, students will break into small groups for a story exchange designed to cultivate radical empathy followed by workshops that are at the heart of the conference. Each workshop will be led by a cadre of SCH facilitators that have been developing and designing the program since the beginning of the year. 

“This conference is fueled by the students themselves and the topics that they want to dig into with their peers,” said Polly Kimberly, one of the school’s diversity coordinators. “They have created a wonderful and diverse menu to choose from, sure to elicit important and meaningful conversations.” 

A sampling of the workshop titles sheds light on the topics participants will explore: 

• Looking in the Mirror: a social action workshop about body image and self-love 

•  In Your Head: Learn How to Distinguish Emotions from Mental Health illness and Why You Should Always Be Kind! 

• You Have a Superpower: Embracing Vulnerability as a Natural Catalyst for Human Connection 

• The Other Side: Exploring Bias and Opinion Through a Discussion of Current Controversies 

• You Are What You Buy: Identity, Politics, and Consumerism 

• Snap Judgment: Exploring and Combatting Implicit Bias 

Additionally, for local educators, the conference offers a professional development workshop led by Ms. Washington-Leapheart, entitled “Curating Brave Spaces.” During the workshop participants will employ case studies and engage in role-playing to invoke discussion about best practices for creating these spaces. 

Months in the making, the SCHout Conference leans into the school’s mission and diversity statements to effect positive change and to engage, understand, and celebrate the broad range of human experiences and perspectives.  

SCH welcomes high school students, mature eighth graders, and educators to attend.  For more information and to register: www.sch.org/SCHout

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