Students spent the morning of May 28 engaged in mind-opening workshops and service opportunities during Groton’s spring community gathering.
They chose two from a slate of more than thirty workshops, most of them student-run, on topics from multicultural identities, Title IX, and Muslim stereotypes to divorced parents, perfectionism, and privilege.
In a workshop called “Elitism in Classical Music,” students discussed some of the most outstanding composers of all time, famous in their day but denied notoriety because they are Black or female—maestros such as Joseph Bologna Chevalier de Saint-George, a French composer and violinist known as the “Black Mozart”; pianist and composer Clara Schumann, Robert Schumann’s wife; and George Bridgewater, a Black violinist to whom Beethoven dedicated a sonata.
Students of South Asian heritage discussed the caste system, imposed by Aryans around 1500 BCE, and how its lingering focus on social class creates “outcasts” today. In another workshop, two Sixth Formers bravely took “an apolitical dive” into the ethics of abortion, discussing various interpretations of individual rights.
Students discussed classism through the movie Parasite, read plays by Idris Goodwin, and immersed in nature at the Nashua River while reading "Dream-Remember" by Hanna Cormick. They also made art from trash in the Dillon Art Center and performed service, cleaning up Farmers Row, area trails, and garden beds near Buildings and Grounds.
One workshop featured an outside speaker—attorney, public defender, and social worker Lisa Newman-Polk, a staunch advocate for prison reform. She has represented people serving life sentences for crimes committed as adolescents and recovering addicts imprisoned for decades on drug-related charges. The so-called “war on drugs” began more than a century ago, with media vilifying people of color as drug users, and President Reagan’s “just say no” campaign, according to Newman-Polk, “focused on drug users but not what was driving people to use.” The speaker provided a wrenching look inside prisons, including the cages that some prisons use for high-security inmates during group therapy sessions. The workshop was a portrait of a failed prison system and a call to action for reform.
The spring community gathering was the last of 2021–22. It capped a year of various discussions and speakers intended to generate conversation on difficult topics.