SLIDE Leadership Development Program

June 26-28, 2023

For our second annual SLIDE LDP, students explored the theme “Centering Joy and Peace in Our Work as Leaders.” As DEI practitioners, we realize that this work in the DEI space can be frustrating, demoralizing, and grueling. Thus, we wanted to teach our students an important lesson that we didn’t learn until much later in life: they can create moments of joy, rest, and peace for themselves. And not only can they give themselves permission to do this, but this rest, joy, and peace are actually parts of the DEI work because those spaces were often denied to so many marginalized people. With guest speakers Dubbs Weinblatt and Tracey Michae’l Lewis-Giggets, daily JAM (Joy as Activism Me time) Sessions, DEI Case Studies, Leadership Modules, and more, students grappled with tough DEI topics all while remembering to give themselves space for joy along the way.

Upper School Speaker: Jonathan Greenblatt

May 22, 2023

Director of the Anti-Defamation League, Jonathan Greenblatt, spoke to the entire Upper School about standing up against Antisemitism and Hate in all forms.

Annual Multicultural Fairs on both campuses

May 18 and 19, 2023

Middle School and Upper School SLIDE hosted the annual Multicultural Fair for the whole community! This engaging, educational, and fun student-run event took place outside on the quad and the Commons. There were different stations, each consisting of tables with food, games, crafts, swag, and information, hosted by our student affinity groups. There was food from around the world generously donated by parent affinity groups, a food truck, a bunny pen for the Year of the Rabbit, student made world language magazines, a raffle, a piñata, cultural dance and music performances, and more. It was a joyous celebration of the many cultures and identities represented within our school community!

Upper School Speaker: Rayman Mathoda

May 15, 2023

SASA, GSA, Empower, and WOC hosted Rayman Mathoda to speak to all Juniors and Seniors. Rayman is a Princeton Alumni and Indian CEO who has successfully led and transformed 5 different companies in the last 10 years, 2 of which were subsequently sold to Fortune 500 buyers. In addition, Rayman is a lesbian, mother, and wife and has been fighting for LGBTQ rights, personally and globally, for decades.

Alejandro Lombard becomes a Presidential Scholar in the Arts for his Documentary “Seeking Asylum”

May 9, 2023

Alejandro Lombard ’23 created a powerful documentary “Seeking Asylum” about a family who goes through the unthinkable on their journey to the U.S.-Mexico border for his HW Junior Summer Fellowship project. “My motivation for making this documentary is to help reframe the narrative of immigration and asylum in this country by telling a personal story of a family’s journey,” Lombard said in an interview with The Chronicle. Alejandro borrowed equipment from his HW Video Art classroom, and visited the U.S.-Mexico border with the organizations This is About Humanity, Tijuana Sin Hambre, International Community Foundation and Movimiento Juventud. Because of his film “Seeking Asylum,” Alejandro Lombard went on to be named a 2023 U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts, alongside two other Harvard-Westlake student artists, Fallon Dern ’23, and Raisa Effress ’23, an honor only awarded to 20 students in the country across all visual and performing arts mediums!

Watch Seeking Asylum here:


April 15, 2023

The BLACC OUT Dance was a fun night of music, connection, and cultural celebration hosted by our Black Leadership Awareness and Culture Club for high school students all around LA.

GSA Spring Blooming Dance

April 14, 2023

Upper School GSA hosted the Blooming Spring dance, open to 9th through 12th grade students from around LA who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community and allies! The night featured a lip sync contest, dancing, prizes, a plethora of games from video games to air hockey to card games to Jenga, delicious foods, and lots of rainbows!

Choral-Orchestral Carnegie Hall Kick-Off Concert at Emmanuel Lutheran Church

March 24, 2023

Reasons why this concert is special:

  1. It's a preview of our upcoming historic Carnegie Hall performance on 3/28/23.
  2. It features our students and faculty performing a work that has not been heard at Carnegie Hall since 1915 (Hiawath's Wedding Feast by Coleridge-Taylor).
  3. All of the music for this concert is by Black and Indigenous composers - to my knowledge, this is a first in HW history.
  4. It features a world premiere performance of an orchestral work by a NY-based Indigenous composer that Harvard-Westlake commissioned especially for this concert (Indigenous/Undigenous by Davids)
  5. It features a world premiere performance of an arrangement by a Havard-Westlake teacher (Lift Every Voice and Sing, arr. Robles)

- Dr. Zanaida Stewart Robles, Upper School Performing Arts Faculty

Mindy Kaling at Westflix Film Festival

March 17, 2023

At the 20th Annual Westflix Film Festival, a celebration of short films made by California teens, hosted and curated by Harvard-Westlake School, two students sat on stage at the historic Million Dollar Theater and interviewed writer, actor, producer, and comedian Mindy Kaling. Student Festival Directors Grace Belgrader ‘23 and Will Chandrasekhar ‘23 asked Kaling thoughtful questions about South Asian and female representation in Hollywood and her journey breaking barriers and telling stories with flawed relatable characters, to an audience of over 700 young aspiring filmmakers and their families and supporters.

Southern California Diversity Recruiting Fair

March 4, 2023

An annual fair for faculty, staff, and administrators from underrepresented groups interested in working in independent schools. The 2023 hybrid DRF offered attendees opportunities to learn about working in an independent school and speak with representatives about open positions, whether candidates were local to the Los Angeles area and attending in person, or connecting with us virtually from a different part of the country! The fair also included 15-minute panels on teaching in an independent school; diversity, equity, and inclusion in education; and working as an administrator in an independent school. The day kicked off with an inspiring keynote address from Carla Cretaro, Head of the Lower School for the John Thomas Dye School.

Brian Hertz leads support sessions for Jewish students and allies

February 23, 2023

Brian Hertz from AJC to join us for five afternoons until the end of this school year to provide additional support for all of our Jewish students and allies (meaning all are welcome). Brian Hertz is American Jewish Committee's Assistant Director of ACCESS Global. In this role, he empowers Jewish leaders to advocate on behalf of critical domestic and global issues facing the Jewish community. Hertz graduated from UCLA with a degree in Psychobiology, and draws extensively from his educational experiences around conflict resolution and human interaction. Hertz has worked with many Jewish organizations, as well as several LGBTQ+ organizations, to bring new voices into their work and to deepen their community impact. He is currently based in Los Angeles.

Upper School Community Time Speaker: Joy Harjo

February 16, 2023

In 2019, Joy Harjo was appointed the 23rd United States Poet Laureate, the first Native American to hold the position. Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Harjo is an internationally renowned performer and writer of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. She is the author of nine books of poetry, several plays and children’s books, and two memoirs. In 2023, Harjo came to Harvard-Westlake School to share her poetry, wisdom, stories, and presence with our community.

The Business of Life Talks Presents Victoria Pearson ‘12

February 10, 2023

Joshua Cheng ‘23 invited alum Victoria Pearson '12 to visit his Business: A Metacognitive Approach class as a guest speaker. Pearson shared specific advice from her path to success: interview techniques, how to ask for help, the power of “no” and manifestation, and how to challenge yourself while taking care of yourself. She spoke about her experiences at HW and in the professional world through the lens of her identity. Victoria Pearson (PSM) is an experienced RTE, Program Manager, Project Manager, and Scrum Master for product implementations / integrations of large-scale technology. She has worked at notable organizations such as Disney as well as small businesses.

HWinterfest during Upper School Community Time

December 15, 2022

This year Student Leaders for Inclusion Diversity and Equity (SLIDE,) Prefect Council, and the Performing Arts Department collaborated to make the annual Upper School HWinterfest not only entertaining and filled with holiday cheer, but also more diverse and inclusive! Jewish Club told the true history of Hannukah, Armenian Club shared a musical Armenian Christmas tradition, BLACC programmed a speech and dance to celebrate Kwanzaa, LAHSO made a video interviewing underrepresented staff members about their favorite holiday traditions and so much more. The production, which was thematically curated into three acts: Renewal, Gratitude, and Community, featured original monologues, live instrumental music, singing, dancing, video, educational speeches, and poetry from students, faculty, and staff.

Brown Bag Lunch and Learn: Faculty Fellowship trip to the American South

December 13, 2022

Faculty and Staff joined together for the 2nd Brown Bag Lunch and Learn of the year! Folks from both campuses enjoyed lunch courtesy of the DEI Office as we heard from our colleagues about their powerful summer fellowship trip. Underwritten by a generous donation from the Kutler family and in support of the Kutler Center’s mission to cultivate and sustain interdisciplinary studies and independent research at Harvard-Westlake, this year’s faculty fellowship offered the opportunity to explore African-American culture in the American South with a focus on 20th century civil rights movements, music, cuisine, and religion. The fellowship traveled by bus throughout the South in June 2022, visiting many historic sites including Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC, The Legacy Museum and Lynching Memorial in Montgomery, AL, Congo Square in New Orleans, LA, Royal Studios in Memphis, TN, and many others. The group was ushered through these cities by countless guides and griots whose knowledge and narratives breathed life into the group.

EMPOWER presents…Robbie Brenner

December 8, 2022

Upper School Empower invited Academy-Award-nominated filmmaker and Executive Producer of Mattel Films Robbie Brenner to speak to students about her support for a greater representation of female leaders and their perspectives in the film industry. She shared her experience producing her recent film, Call Jane (2022), about a group of women who provided underground abortions in Chicago in the 1960s, as well as the new Barbie movie which empowers women to appreciate the beauty in unconventionality.

EMPOWER, Venture, and HWSAA present… Julia Boorstin ‘96

November 29, 2022

Upper School Empower hosted CNBC’s Senior Media & Tech Correspondent and Harvard-Westlake alum, Julia Boorstin ‘96, as a keynote speaker in collaboration with Harvard-Westlake Venture and Student Alumni Association. Boorstin discussed her experience writing her new book When Women Lead about influential stories of successful female leaders in business and shared her inclusive vision of empowering women to close the gender gap.

US Jewish Club presents…Emily Schrader and Yoseph Haddad

November 18, 2022

Upper School Jewish Club leaders and advisor invited Emily Schrader, CEO and co-founder of the digital marketing firm Social Lite Creative and former digital director of StandWithUs, and her husband, Yoseph Haddad, CEO of Together Vouch for Each Other to speak with students and faculty during lunch on Friday. Image pulled from their Youtube Channel “Headlines with the Haddads.”

All-Community Webinar: Jeffrey Abrams of the Anti-Defamation League

November 14, 2022

In response to recent antisemitic events around the country and in our community, and as part of our intensified efforts to educate our community and combat antisemitism everywhere, Rick Commons invited the entire school community to tune in on Monday evening, November 14th, at 6:30 p.m. for a webinar with Jeffrey Abrams, Director of the Los Angeles region of the Anti-Defamation League.

Till Movie Screening with BLACC

November 6, 2022

Community members attended a weekend morning screening of Chinonye Chukwus’ new movie Till at Cinemark Baldwin Hills. The film is based on the true story of Mamie Till-Mobley’s relentless pursuit of justice for her 14-year-old son, Emmett Till, who was brutally lynched in 1955 while visiting family in Mississippi by way of Chicago. A regular trip taken by African Americans following The Great Migration sadly turned tragic and became the catalyst for the Civil Rights Movement. After the powerful film, everyone stayed for a 45-minute Q&A led by student-leaders from BLACC, moderated by Erik C. Wade, PhD, BLACC Co-Advisor and History/ISIR Instructor.

LAHSO on the Quad for Hispanic Heritage Month and Día de Los Muertos

October and November, 2022

US LAHSO (Upper School Latinx Hispanic Student Organization) put on a week-long celebration on the Quad for Hispanic Heritage Month. It started with a fundraiser for the Hispanic Federation, an organization supporting Puerto Rico with hurricane relief. The rest of the week consisted of free goodies on the quad and music. This ranged from arroz con leche (rice pudding), pan dulce (Mexican sweet bread), and horchata. It culminated with an upper school favorite, a piñata on the quad. On the first two days of November, HW students honored Día de Los Muertos in such beautiful ways around campus. LAHSO leaders set up an ofrenda on the quad and distributed Pan de Muerto, a traditional sweet bread that is commonly made during Day of the Dead. And Spanish V students made barriletes to celebrate the Day of the Dead as it's celebrated in Guatemala.

Upper School Theatre Department presents…Jeff Mack

October 25, 2022

The Upper School Theatre team invited Jeff Mack, Matthew Shepard Foundation Executive Vice President, to share Matthew’s story and vigor for civil rights as they work to put a stop to hate crimes in America.

Upper School Community Time Speaker: Ben M. Freeman

October 25, 2022

Our students, faculty, and staff couldn’t get enough of Ben M. Freeman, Jewish author, educator, and DEI specialist who came to speak in Taper about antisemitism, hate speech, and how communities can grow “from prejudice to pride.” Everyone gathered in the gym and listened as Freeman spoke with such passion and vulnerability, sharing his story of identity and pride as a Jewish, gay man. Our Jewish students felt uplifted in their Jewish pride and history. It was exactly what our community needed to unite together in the shared fight against antisemitism.

Annual KAPA Banquet

October 16, 2022

On Sunday, October 16, at the Oxford Hotel in Los Angeles, KAPA held their annual banquet. Because of the Pandemic it has been 3 years since the last celebration was shared with our school community. Jennifer Kim P’21 '24'26, 2022-23 KAPA President hosted over 200 guests who included parents, students, members from the HW leadership team along with faculty/staff members. It was a fantastic event that provided entertainment from students/adult advisors. Many thanks to the esteemed KAPA Committee members (volunteer parents) who helped to make the event possible.

Woman King screening with PAAHWS

October 16, 2022

On Sunday, October 16, the powerful movie Woman King was shared with over 250 HW guests who included parents, students, alums, spouses of alums, faculty/staff, administrators, and parents of alums. Janine Jones moderated a fabulous panel with Gina Prince Blyewood P’19’22 and Nicole Brown Heisler ’98. Zoila Paniagua ’23’26 LAPA Co-Chair helped tremendously to make it possible for everyone to enjoy. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that Gina will be nominated in the category of Best Director for the upcoming Academy Awards; never before has there been an African-American woman nominated in that category in the history of the Academy Awards.

Diversity Council Interview Training with Robert Greene

October 6, 2022

Our Diversity Council partook in a training with CEO/Principal of Cedar & Burwell Strategic Consulting Robert Greene on bias-aware, bias-resistant, and bias-resilient interviewing practices.

Brown Bag Lunch and Learn: Passing

September 28-29, 2022

Colleagues on both campuses enjoyed Sweetgreen for lunch courtesy of the DEI Office during the first Brown Bag Lunch and Learn events of the year. These lunch-time book club discussions, led by English Department Faculty members and a few Senior students, focused upon the novel Passing by Nella Larsen, written in 1929 yet still so relevant and poignant today. Passing was not only our DEI Summer Read, but is also a part of the 11th grade English curriculum (Odysseys and Revolutions). Faculty and staff had three opportunities to gather and dig into themes of race, class, gender, sexuality, and more through thought-provoking communal discussions of this beautiful novel.

Affinity Groups at Upper School Activities Fair

September 22, 2022

105 student organizations, clubs, and affinity groups set up tables around the track with signs and snacks and sign-up sheets in hopes of gaining awareness and increasing membership! The identity-based groups whose leaders comprise US SLIDE this year are pictured above: Armenian Club, Asian Students in Action, Black Leadership Awareness and Culture Club, Diversability: Overcoming Inequality Together!, Empower, Gender Sexuality Alliance, Jewish Club, Japanese Language and Culture Club, Latin-American/Hispanic Student Organization, Middle Eastern Student Association, Multiethnic Inclusion and(x) Diversity, South Asian Student Alliance, and Women of Color. We also want to recognize experience-based affinity groups and mental health groups such as Plus One (for students experiencing grief/loss/trauma) and the new First Generation and Immigrant Allies group.

Visiting Artist Exhibition in Feldman-Horn Gallery: Slanguage Studio Artists

September 16, 2022

The Upper School Visual Arts Department opened their first exhibition of the school year with an incredible quartet of professional Visiting Artists. The exhibition entitled “Use What You Have…Do Your Best…” is up in Feldman-Horn Gallery from September 16, 2022 - November 4, 2022. Using photography, drawing, painting, sculpture, and installation, four different artists explore Mexican-American identity, investigate personal struggles with addiction and health trauma, and playfully critique unsettling aspects of the art world. Featured Slanguage Studio Artists include Mario Ybarra Jr., Karla Diaz, Aydinaneth Ortiz, and Juan Manuel Valenzuela. Slanguage is an Artist Run Space and Defacto Art School in Wilmington, CA. During the Opening Reception on Friday September 16, 2022 after school, community members came to experience the art and eat tacos from Homestate. LAHSO members attended a special gallery tour where each of the artists told stories and answered questions about their artwork. A few weeks later Mario Ybarra Jr. returned to offer a conceptual art workshop to visual arts students.

Affinity Group Leader and Advisor Training with Dr. Liza Talusan

September 10, 2022

On a Saturday from 9am-2pm MS & US student affinity group leaders and their adult advisors gathered at the Middle School for an extensive interactive training session with Dr. Liza Talusan. The training focused on forming habits for identity-conscious facilitation and building skills and tools for more inclusive and courageous conversations.

Spanish V´s field trip to La Plaza Cocina at Olvera Street

September 1, 2022

Señora Riemer’s Spanish V took a field trip to La Plaza Cocina at Olvera Street. Students watched a documentary featuring 10 abuelas (some Mexican-American, some mestizas, some Afromexicanas, some indígenas). In the documentary, the women spoke about their lives in the US and how they stay connected to their home culture through culinary traditions.

HW River Park partners with Angel City Sports

July 7, 2022

Harvard-Westlake’s River Park project announced a partnership with Angel City Sports, which provides free adaptive sports opportunities to children, adults, and veterans with physical disabilities and visual impairments. The forthcoming River Park campus will be the “Valley Home of Angel City Sports” and will host numerous adaptive sports programs including wheelchair basketball, wheelchair tennis, track and field, sitting volleyball, table tennis, swimming, goalball, blind soccer, judo, wheelchair fencing, and amputee soccer. Angel City Sports will also provide hands-on educational experiences for Harvard-Westlake students, faculty, and staff to learn about and experience Paralympic sports, and to volunteer with the organization.

Brown Bag Lunch and Learn: Students of Color; Beyond Our Race Identifier

May 25, 2022

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, Cionnie Pineda '22 presented "Students of Color; Beyond Our Race Identifier" in collaboration with US Counselor Matthew Bell and MS Learning Specialist & KITS Teacher Jennifer Gabrail. This Brown Bag Lunch and Learn Conversation on Intersectionality and Mental Health took place in-person on both campuses. This event took the form of an honest group conversation and listening session, led by one of our most passionate student leaders for inclusion, diversity, and equity. Faculty and staff were inspired by Cionnie’s bravery and vulnerability to tell her story and advocate for possible solutions to further support the mental health of students with multiple identifiers at HW.

Cinema Sundays presents…Barry Jenkins’ "The Underground Railroad"

May 22, 2022

Longtime Cinema Studies teacher Ted Walch invited Alex O’Flinn and Joi McMillon, editors of Barry Jenkins’ episodic “The Underground Railroad,” based on Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. They joined Walch for a deep in-person discussion, following a screening of the first two episodes. You view the show yourself via Amazon Prime.

Upper School Community Time Speaker: Ming Na-Wen (温明娜)

May 13, 2022

Asian Pacific American Heritage (APAH) Month is a time to recognize and celebrate the vast and diverse group of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the US, whose contributions are integral to the history of America. We recognize and applaud our collective strength, perseverance, and artistry.

To celebrate, Upper School Asian Students in Action (ASiA) invited actress Ming Na-Wen (温明娜) to speak via Zoom during Community Time. Ms. Wen is most known for her role as June Woo in The Joy Luck Club (1993) and as the original voice of Mulan in Disney’s animated film Mulan (1998). She has also starred in Agents of Shield and the Stars Wars franchise (The Mandalorian, The Bad Batch, and The Book of Boba Fett). For her work with Disney, she was honored as a Disney Legend in 2019 and is set to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame this year. Ms. Wen is an icon of Asian representation in the film and television industry, and her advocacy for greater awareness of the Asian-American community has contributed to increased representation in media.  

ASiA hosted a follow-up discussion to analyze, challenge, and continue the conversation about representation, fetishization, and the Model Minority Myth.

Babel x SLIDE release a Community Cookbook Around Our World

May 5, 2022

“Food is often one of the best ways to raise multicultural awareness and appreciation, and in September 2021, I sought to implement this principle into our plans for Babel Magazine this year. While in conversation with Mx. Limerick to coordinate a Babel-SLIDE collaboration, we conjured the idea to create a multicultural cookbook dedicated to exemplifying the diverse culinary traditions from the Harvard-Westlake community. From there, I’m so grateful for the team that has come together to forge our vision into a reality. [Please see Letter from the Editor in the Multicultural Cookbook PDF for full list of staff and thank yous.] This publication features 25 recipes submitted by Harvard-Westlake students, parents, faculty and staff. A big thank-you to everyone who submitted. We’re so excited for you all to share in the joy that we had while assembling this collection.

- Joie Zhang ’22, Editor-In-Chief of Babel & Head Editor of the Babel-SLIDE Multicultural Cookbook

US SLIDE Multicultural Fair and US LASHO Cinco De Mayo Celebration

May 5, 2022

The entire Upper School was invited to attend the SLIDE Multicultural Fair/LAHSO Cinco de Mayo celebration during May 5th’s Community Time!! The student affinity group leaders (with the help of parent affinity groups and the DEI office) organized an incredible event with delicious foods from around the world, awesome cultural music, and lots of fun activities such as a piñata contest, a photobooth, and a scavenger hunt raffle on the Quad celebrating some of the many different cultures of the world represented at HW. Concurrently, Ms. Queala’s dance students performed a site-responsive movement piece outside Mudd Library.

Introducing new US Affinity Group: DO-IT! (Diversability: Overcoming Inequity Together)

May 1, 2022

DO-IT! (Diversability: Overcoming Inequity Together) is a new space on campus where students unite to advocate equity and visibility for the diversely-abled community. Through dialogue and education, they plan to address the stigma attached to disabilities and tackle issues of varying severity that students of all ability levels face daily. Although this year’s leaders were all graduating seniors, DO-IT! hopes to continue to grow next school year under new leadership.

Brown Bag Lunch and Learn: “American Boy” Screening and Panel Discussion

April 27, 2022

This January, Video Art student Fallon Dern '23 collaborated with and interviewed an ethnically diverse group of 18 boys at HW Upper School to create a thought-provoking and visually stunning documentary about race, masculinity, romance, and conceptions of self as shaped by Western media. This emotionally impactful, intricately crafted cultural video collage was completed in just one month's time and sparks more questions than it answers. 

Watch “American Boy” Here

While eating a delicious complimentary lunch, Faculty and Staff members watched Fallon’s 10 minute film and then listened to a panel discussion, moderated by Mx. Limerick, with the student filmmaker, Fallon Dern ‘23, and American boys Milo Kiddugavu ‘22, Danny Johnson ‘23, Charlie Seymour ‘23, who were featured in the video piece. The event concluded with an open discussion and Q&A session with the audience, both virtual and in person.

Upper School Community Time Speaker: Yona Nadelman

April 26, 2022

The day before Yom Ha'Shoah, Upper School Jewish Club hosted a mandatory all school assembly in Taper Gym, where we had the privilege to listen to a Holocaust survivor speak about her experiences. Yom Ha'Shoah commemorates the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust, and the heroism of survivors. Students introduced Jordanna Gessler, Vice President of Education and Exhibits at Holocaust Museum LA, who interviewed Yona Nadelman and allowed her space to share her painful story and enduring words of wisdom. Yona Nadelman was five years old when Nazi Germany invaded her hometown of Krakow, Poland.

GLSEN Day of Silence

April 22, 2022

The Upper School Gender and Sexuality Awareness Club (GSA) Leadership Team invited all members of the school to participate in the GLSEN Day of Silence.GLSEN is a leading education organization working to create safe and LGBTQ-inclusive K-12 schools. Students were invited to take a vow of silence for the day and join a national youth movement highlighting the silencing and erasure of LGBTQIA+ people in schools. Faculty were encouraged to read a prepared statement and then hold a moment of silence at the beginning of class to acknowledge the LGBTQ+ people nationwide who experience harassment and discrimination in their schools. GSA provided the school community with resources from the GLSEN website.

Kimberly West-Faulcon joins Kutler Center as Scholar in Residence

March 21, 2022

Kimberly West-Faulcon joined the Kutler Center as the new Scholar in Residence for the 2021-2022 school year. West-Faulcon researches, writes and teaches about the U.S. Constitution and the U.S. Supreme Court on a range of topics that include Equal Protection issues such as race, sex and gender identity discrimination, liberties protected by the Due Process Clause such as same-sex marriage and abortion, and the Second Amendment.

“I am particularly interested in the doctrinal implications of a majority of the current Supreme Court justices ascribing to original meaning originalism as a theory of constitutional interpretation,” West-Faulcon said. “I have been studying and teaching about the origins of originalism for many years now based on my expectation that this theory would someday become a majority view on the Supreme Court.”

Read the full article written by Chloe Park and published in The Chronicle on January 24, 2022 in anticipation of West-Faulcon’s arrival.

Community Council Presents…Special Olympics at HW

April 19, 2022

As part of Community Service Week, Community Council hosted a two hour midday Special Olympics event on the track. For the first time since the start of the pandemic, HW students had the opportunity to rekindle a 7-year tradition and take the field with their friends of all abilities for the Special Olympics! Students partnered with The Help Group to find a purpose beyond themselves, and amid the smiles, cheers, and skills of the day, everyone felt the inclusion, collaboration, encouragement, and the sense of unity.

US SLIDE Town Halls

February 28 and March 4, 2022

SLIDE (Student Leaders for Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity) hosted a series of town halls for students to discuss their Harvard-Westlake experiences as students with marginalized identities. Although each town hall was hosted by one or two affinity groups, all were welcome to attend any meeting (even if they weren’t a member of that affinity group!) They occurred over the course of a week and were entirely student-led in an effort to provide accessible, safe, confidential, spaces for students to discuss their experiences and what they wish to improve at HW as it pertains to diversity, equity, inclusion, curriculum, mental health, belonging, and more.

Blacc Out Dance

February 26, 2022

During the 2nd Annual BLACC OUT Dance in Hamilton Gym, students in grades 9-12 from schools all around Los Angeles gathered together to dance, have fun, connect, and celebrate Black joy!

Upper School Community Time Speaker: Noa Tishby

February 25, 2022

The whole Upper School gathered in the gym to welcome Noa Tishby, an Israeli actress, producer and activist who recently published her first book: Israel: A Simple Guide to the Most Misunderstood Country on Earth, which examines the history of Israel and Palestine. Tisby and Middle East Studies teacher Mr. Yaron engaged in a conversation about Israel from historical and contemporary perspectives and opened up to the audience for questions at the end.

Mr. Makhluf’s Periodic Table of Black History

February 21, 2022

In honor of Black History Month, Middle School History Teacher Mr. Makhluf created a living gallery of Black Artists, Scientists, Authors, Actors, Activists, Athletes, Musicians, Politicians, Famous Firsts, and Entrepreneurs. Makhluf wanted to create an interactive experience for his students that wasn’t as passive as simply showing someone on a PowerPoint and talking to students about them. He wanted students to make a more personal connection with Black History, “if they were interested in finding out more about someone they could do their own research using the QR codes.” This interactive installation will stay up year round.

LGBTQIA+ Valentines Love Lunch

February 16, 2022

Our burgeoning LGBTQIA+ Faculty and Staff Caucus hosted an intergenerational Valentine's brunch to celebrate the expansive love of the LGBTQIA+ community. 12 adult co-hosts sent out a virtual card to students who are queer, questioning, or allies, asking “will you be our Valentines?” and 40 kids came up to the Feldman-Horn Plaza to eat, craft, and socialize. Queer love (platonic, pan, aromantic, romantic, gay, ace, ALL OF IT) was embraced during this sweet lunchtime gathering that existed in a special place beyond the normative confines of V-Day. Attendees organized themselves by zodiac signs and discussed their relationships to the stars, created valentine cards, listened to music, and connected all while eating a delicious vegetarian brunch handcrafted by a local poc lgbtqia+ Chef!

Upper School Community Time Speaker: Dr. Emmett G. Price III '92

February 7, 2022

Celebrated throughout February each year, Black History Month celebrates achievements — both past and present — of Black Americans and their central role throughout American history.  For the first Community Time of the month, BLACC hosted HW Alum, Dr. Emmett G. Price III '92. Dr. Price is a world-renowned scholar, educator, writer, speaker, and media personality on Black music and culture. He currently serves as the inaugural Dean of Africana Studies at Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. Beyond his educational and scholarly roles, Price is also a trained composer and arranger who has performed throughout the U.S. Dr. Price gave an inspirational speech to students and engaged with their questions about Black musicians and authors and the origins of the Black Leadership Awareness and Culture Club back when he was an HW student.

US ASiA’s Lunar New Year Festival

February 1, 2022

Upper School Asian Students in Action (ASiA) transformed the quad into a beautiful, immersive, and diverse Lunar New Year celebration. Hundreds of students and a handful of Faculty and Staff stayed after school to eat delicious Asian foods, take photos, sing karaoke, play games, exchange gifts, and light lanterns in the dark to usher in the Year of the Tiger!

SDLC Presentation at Fac/Staff Meeting

January 25, 2022

After attending the Student Diversity Leadership Conference, five student leaders bravely and eloquently shared what they learned and experienced with Faculty and Staff. Students led adults through a reflective “identity molecule” exercise in break out rooms, told impactful stories from the conference about their enlightening experiences in affinity group spaces, and offered suggestions for how faculty and staff could offer further support for students of marginalized identities to feel a true sense of belonging and equity at HW.

ASiA x BLACC Joint Conversation on Cultural Appropriation

January 24, 2022

Upper School affinity groups Asian Students in Action (ASiA) and Black Leadership Awareness and Culture Club (BLACC) joined forces to host a cross-cultural conversation about cultural appropriation. Students gathered for an hour after school to participate in an open discussion about the ways in which culturally specific hairstyles, language, clothing, art, and other elements have been misappropriated by celebrities, companies, and acquaintances. Another focus of the discussion was the fine line between appropriation and appreciation. By sharing illuminating and painful stories about how special traditions within their unique cultures had been flippantly stolen or watered down for profit or clout, the importance of research and respect were emphasized.

Socially Engaged Video Art Exhibition in Feldman-Horn Gallery

January 18, 2022

The DUALITY of REALITY showcased socially engaged audiovisual art installations created by the 9 students in Mx. Limerick's highest level Video Art class: Ridley Berger Sacks, Kaelyn Choi, Alanah Dakar, Shanti Hinkin, Santiago Kelly, Alejandro Lombard, Lolo Milburn, Sam Pokress, and Oliver Wyman. These immersive multimedia experiences beautifully and bravely grappled with themes of gender, race, physical and mental health, police violence, sexual assault, past and present, war and peace, love, family, domesticity, companionship, stereotypes, the cultural impacts of media, and perceptions and explorations of self. The content of the work was heavy, personal, and important and the forms were varied, unique, and innovative. Importantly, audiences spent time engaging with the work in the gallery and allowed themselves to be emotionally impacted by it.


December 13, 2021

Members of BLACC took a field trip to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to experience the newest exhibition Black American Portraits, featuring 200 years of Black American subjects, spaces, families, and communities as seen through the eyes of Black American artists. The students and faculty mentors were able to view The Obama Portraits as painted by Kehinde Wiley’s portrait and Amy Sherald.

Brown Bag Lunch and Learn with US Jewish Club

December 9, 2021

Faculty and Staff were invited to attend a Brown Bag Lunch and Learn with our Upper School Jewish Club where lunch from Kings Deli was provided. The hybrid event took place in person in Ahmanson as well as via Zoom. HW Sophomore and Senior students shared about how their Jewish identities impact their lives at school as well as on social media and how adults on campus can become more informed allies. Jewish Club members explored personal perspectives on the unique nature of Israel and Palestine, the link between antisemitism and anti-Zionism, and aspects of diversity within Judaism. Ample time was reserved for Q&A from the audience and a productive discussion took place. The students followed up with a handout Educate Yourself on Anti-semitism and Anti-zionism: Resource Sheet.

Upper School Community Time with DEAFinitely Dope

December 7, 2021

Our community was uplifted and enlightened about Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities with a musical ASL presentation in Taper Gym. DHoH activists and educators Matt Maxey and Martise Colston of DEAFinitely Dope Zoomed into tell their stories, answer student questions, and visually interpret popular songs. During this dynamic hybrid presentation, students from the HW Middle School Sign Language club were able to virtually connect with our guests about music, deaf culture, accessibility, and inclusion.

Attica Locke visits English IV: Criminal Minds Class

December 7, 2021

Mystery novelist and television writer/producer Attica Locke visited the English IV: Criminal Minds class to inspire students. In addition to crime, her mystery novels explore southern culture, blues music, race, class, and history. The students in Criminal Minds were able to deeply engage with Locke after reading her novel Heaven, My Home. Locke, winner of the Edgar Award and the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence, discussed her inspiration for the novel and the profound questions that it raises about forgiveness and racial justice in America. She also spoke about her writing process, answered student questions, and signed books. It was an informative, stimulating visit!

HW Pride presents… Understanding Gender Diversity

December 6, 2021

One of our newest parent affinity groups, HW Pride, co-hosted the event Understanding Gender Diversity featuring Joel Baum from Gender Spectrum. HW LGBTQIA+ parents, parents of LGBTQIA+ kids, and anyone interested in supporting the LGBTQIA+ community at HW was invited to engage in the evolving conversation about gender diversity. This virtual nighttime educational event presented by Harvard-Westlake School, Crossroads School for Arts & Sciences, and Viewpoint School aimed to help attendees become better allies to trans and nonbinary students.

Environmental Club presents...Dennis Mabasa

November 29, 2021

The Upper School student-run Environmental Club invited Dennis Mabasa (they/them) to speak during Community Time. Students gathered in Ahmanson to learn from Dennis Mabasa, the current Director of Education at Friends of the Los Angeles River, about environmental careers and specifically how environmental science can intersect with environmental justice. Masaba passionately and relatably spoke about their professional experiences from the perspective of a person from the Philippines and member of the LGBTQ+ community, and how their identity has impacted their work and values.

Transgender Day of Remembrance

November 20. 2021

Members of our confidential student affinity group for transgender, genderqueer, and gender questioning students invited the community to honor the memory of murdered transgender people. The QR codes links to a video the students chose created by The University of New South Wales (UNSW Sydney) explaining the origin of Transgender Day of Remembrance. It has been observed annually since 1999, initiated as a vigil to commemorate and honor Rita Hester, a Black transgender woman killed in Allston in 1998. Unfortunately, there have been many more lives lost to transphobic violence since Rita Hester.

ASiA Karaoke Night

November 19, 2021

Upper School student-run affinity group Asian Students in Action (ASiA) strives to connect Asian students to each other and their own identities, and, for their first social event of the year, members did just that. Kids introduced non-Asian and Asian friends to their favorite karaoke songs, made friends in the line for Korean barbecue, watched Asian American media inside, posed in the photo booth and played basketball with kids they'd never met before. ASiA leaders couldn't have been prouder and happier with how it went.

Community Service with HWJFA

November 14, 2021

During the first-ever HW Jewish Family Alliance Community Service event at Our Big Kitchen LA, parents and students prepared and packaged 239 meals for those in need in our community. Students earned 2 hours of Harvard-Westlake community service credit for this activity and families were able to connect in person for a good cause.

Courageous Conversations with Ourselves - Family Visiting Day Session with Ms. Essex and Mx. Limerick

November 13, 2021

Participants of 7th Grade Virtual Family Visiting Day had the option to immerse themselves in DEI at HW by engaging in Courageous Conversations with ourselves. Two coordinators of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion led their small group on a a poetic journey of self-discovery and identity composed of inspirational videos and a thought-provoking free-writing activity. Visitors of all ages were encouraged to be fierce and ask themselves courageous questions!

HWCCC Roundtable

November 4, 2021

Harvard-Westlake Chinese Cultural Club hosted a virtual roundtable where panelists shared wisdom with parents at the beginning of their journey at HW. It was well attended and well produced; the parents who planned the event and handled tech support exhibited an exceptional level of volunteerism, professionalism, and comradery.

MS SASA Diwali Festival

November 4, 2021

“The Diwali celebration at the middle school was a ton of fun. We decorated diyas (oil lamps), ate samosas, and designed rangoli to celebrate. We had a big turnout and many people came with open minds, wanting to learn more. It was a great experience and I am looking forward to next year!” - Nikhil Sarvaiya ‘26

US SASA’s Diwali Festival

November 4, 2021

The Upper School South Asian Student Alliance invited the community to celebrate Diwali (Indian New Year) after school on the Seaver patio. There were numerous activities such as henna dye and Diya candle decoration plus samosas, music, and a presentation.

Empower presents…Soraya M. Deen

November 3, 2021

Harvard-Westlake's women's empowerment and gender equality club hosted a dynamic speaker during Upper School Conference Time. Soraya Deen is a Lawyer, Author, award winning International Activist, Community Organizer, gender justice advocate & Interfaith Consultant. She is the founder of the Muslim Women Speakers & Co - founder of the Interfaith Solidarity Network, one of the largest interfaith organizations in Los Angeles. She authored the books SERVE: A call to Muslims and PEACE MATTERS: Raising peace conscious children. She believes that religion based oppression, dominance and violence against women of faith must be addressed with urgency. She urges women & girls to show up, speak up & move up; because the bottom is overcrowded. 

Paula Yoo visits the Middle School

November 1, 2021

The author of this year's DEI Summer Read selection, Paula Yoo, joined us on campus to discuss her book "From A Whisper to a Rallying Cry: The Killing of Vincent Chin and the Trial that Galvanized the Asian American Movement”. Moving between laughter and lamentation, Yoo engaged a Middle School audience as she spoke on compassion in relation to justice, the imperativeness of racial representation, and solidarity across social movements.

Faculty and Staff Appreciation Luncheon

October 29, 2021

The Faculty and Staff on both MS and US campuses enjoyed a bountiful and Boo-tiful Halloween themed delicious Chinese luncheon, co-sponsored by HWCCC and HWP.  Thank you to all the wonderful volunteers who helped in the event!

HW ALL IN: HW Athletes Leading + Learning to Create Inclusive Norms

October 28, 2021

Photo from combined trainings with Boys’ Basketball and Girls’ Soccer

“The DEI training series was a good installment to the athletics program. I feel it should be required for all teams. Especially in the day and age we are in, understanding amongst people of different races and cultures is important.” - Dahnte Russell ‘22 (Boys’ Basketball)

Lyla June at Pollyanna Conference

October 23, 2021

Harvard-Westlake School hosted its fifth annual Pollyanna Conference with pods from 17 neighboring schools in attendance. The theme of this year’s conference is “Reimagining Resiliency with Resolve.” Our Keynote speaker was the powerful and present Lyla June, an Indigenous public speaker, artist, scholar and community organizer. Her songs, poems, and stories had many of us in tears; her calls for truth, faith, and compassion for Indigenous lands, languages, and peoples were urgent. Lyla June is of Diné (Navajo), Tsétsêhéstâhese (Cheyenne) and European lineages from Taos, New Mexico.

KAPA Dodgers Game Outing

October 17, 2021

Founded in 1990, Korean American Parents' Association welcomes all Harvard-Westlake families who share an interest in getting to know other parents and learning more about Korean culture. Members of KAPA (Korean American Parents' Association) recently gathered to bond during a baseball game.

Upper School Community Time: Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration

October 11, 2021

In celebration of Latinx/Hispanic Heritage month, LAHSO gave out Cuban pastries and Mexican candy out on the quad and then played many rounds of Lotería. Lots of students stopped by, so many of whom were not members of LAHSO but still showed their support (and their love of great food)!!

Faculty/Staff Affinity Group Brainstorm

October 6 and 8, 2021

The DEI Office hosted a lunchtime discussion on the purpose, structure, and benefits of having Faculty/Staff Affinity Groups as a part of the Harvard-Westlake community. Faculty/Staff Affinity Groups (also known as Employee Resource Groups or ERGs) are voluntary, employee-led groups made up of individuals who join together based on common interests, backgrounds, or demographic factors such as gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, ability, neurodiversity, religion and many more. These discussions were an important step in the hopeful creation of more inclusive and robust Faculty/Staff Affinity Groups.

LGBTQIA+ Safe Space Training for Faculty/Staff

October 6, 2021

Harvard-Westlake's Annual LGBTQIA+ Safe Space Training for Faculty/Staff led by Dr. Nate Cardin via Zoom. The presentation is updated and refined every year with input from community members and students in GSA. This year, Dr. Cardin focused on pronouns and language and offered attendees opportunities to ask questions and engage in discussion. Faculty and Staff members left with a deeper understanding and concrete tools for how to support their students, colleagues, and friends of LGBTQIA+ identities.

Diversity Council Meeting

September 30, 2021

Our Diversity Council consists of faculty and staff from all departments and divisions across both campuses. This year the council members resolved to facilitate the creation and implementation of DEI Action Plans tailored to each department or team through a series of internal conversations, surveys, and working sessions. 

Grading for Equity 21-22 Cohort Kick-off Meeting

September 29, 2021

Over a two year period, cohorts of faculty from both campuses meet throughout the year for a series of workshops, coaching, and reflective check-ins that promote equitable grading and assessment practices. At this year’s inaugural meeting, Dr. Shantha Smith from Crescendo Education Group presented via Zoom.

150 Years in the Making: Jews of L.A. with HWJFA

September 29, 2021

Community members were invited to join Dr. Caroline Luce, Chief Digital Curator of Mapping Jewish L.A., for a discussion of the intersecting Jewish migratory, cultural, and urban histories that converged in Los Angeles. Attendees learned how Jews have negotiated and navigated their communal relations and identities within a complex and ever-changing ethno-racial geography of the American West and also discussed their own “L.A. Stories” at this interactive and virtual event.   

Sukkot Dinners Under The Stars with HWJFA

September 22-25, 2021

Our Jewish Family Association hosted their first family event of the year — small group Sukkot dinners under the stars at Harvard-Westlake families’ homes! During these intimate outdoor dinners, groups were able to reflect upon the meaning of home, shelter, and the seasons over a meal with fellow HWJFA families.

Art © Flora Rosefky. Learn more about this piece, entitled, Sukkot.

Upper School Activities Fair during Community Flex Time

September 22, 2021

On a very hot day, 106 tables were set up around the track, each one advertising a different student-run club. All students spent the whole Community Flex Time block promoting their existing organizations and/or signing up for new groups. Prefect council organized the tables into the following categories: Social Studies/Activism. Sports, Hobbies, Art/Film, Science, Tech/Gaming, Writing/Language, Outreach, Music, Academic Competition, Miscellaneous, and SLIDE, which comprises our 15 Affinity Groups.

Construction of a Sukkah for Sukkot on both campuses

September 20, 2021

Sukkot is a Jewish holiday marking both the close of the harvest and commemorating the wandering of the Israelites in the desert. This observance historically involves the building of a sukkah, a temporary shelter used for gatherings, meals, and on occasion, for lodging. Many thanks to both Dave Mintz, Richard Bogan, and their maintenance/facility crews for their assistance in constructing our new multi-purpose sukkah!

JAG visit to the Japanese American National Museum with Kurt Kanazawa ‘07

September 19, 2021

JAG organized a visit to the Japanese American National Museum with HW alum, Kurt Kanazawa ‘07. Kurt narrated the voice of Stanley Hayami for a virtual reality video project and exhibit at the museum. Middle school AACC and JLCC members got to meet Kurt and hear about his experience working on the project documenting Stanley Hayami’s journey from Mark Keppel High School to Japanese American concentration camp to enlisting in the US army.

HWP Mindfulness Club Kick-off Event

September 17, 2021

HW Parent ‘24 ’26, Kalika Yap, has created a new parent group for those interested in mindfulness. HW employees are also welcome to participate in events centering mindfulness and healing such as meditation and yoga sessions, neuroscience seminars, and more.  Visit for information and resources on how to introduce mindfulness practices into your everyday life.

Chicken Matzoh Ball Soup Cooking Class with HWJFA

September 9, 2021

Community members were invited to kick off the school year (and Jewish New Year 5781!) by learning to make the cure for whatever ails you: chicken matzoh ball soup! Sharon Steiglitz (P'22, P'26) led this virtual cooking class just in time to get folks ready to whip up this Jewish classic at the following week’s Yom Kippur break-the-fast meal. Yum!

Brown Bag Beginning of Year Check In: "How Much Me Can I Be?”

September 2, 2021

Each year we meet a new wave of students, parents, and colleagues...and experience once again the challenges that can come along with making a first impression. "How much of my authentic self can I share up front?" “How _____ can I be when I first meet my students/families?” "How Much Me Can I Be?” The DEI Team invited Faculty and Staff to join together on Zoom to process the anxieties and fears we may share about being ourselves at the start of a new school year through vulnerable conversations and journaling.

HW Black Caucus backyard gathering before the HW Football Game

August 27, 2021

“I feel that it is a full-circle moment that as a student at HW I was a part of BLACC and now as an employee, I am a part of the Black Caucus. A few Fridays ago we were all invited to meet up before the Football game for food and conversation. Last Friday we had a Zoom meeting where we gave updates on our first few weeks back on campus. It’s been great to share my own experiences and hear from my fellow Black colleagues. These Friday meetings mean a lot to me because I end the week reminded that I have a support group on campus.”

-Haley Hicks ‘17


August 22, 2021

PAAHWS (Parents of African American Harvard-Westlake Students) hosted panelists, including Akeem Ayeni, Anthony Sparks, Dionne McClain, Stacy Messaye, who provided sage advice to the new families. Over 50 families were in attendance via Zoom. The PAAHWS Co-Chairs are Kirsten Albrecht Evans and Dr. Cynthia Mathias-Herring and they are exceptional leaders.

Inaugural HW community LGBTQ+ Event

August 22, 2021

The HW Alumni Association along with HW Pride* (a new parent affinity group for LGBTQ+ and ally parents) hosted the first-ever HW community LGBTQ+ event. This outdoor social event, held at the home of HW parents, was attended by 60 people, alumni, parents, staff & faculty, and students, who identify in/with the LGBTQ+ community.

JAG Park Gathering

August 21, 2021

JAG, Japanese-American Affinity Group, is a parent affinity group that welcomes all Harvard-Westlake families who have an interest in Japanese and Japanese-American culture. After 18 long months apart, group members safely reunited in a Los Angeles park to share stories, smiles (masked ones but, trust us, they're there), and yummy treats!

An Evening with Jesmyn Ward, Author and National Book Award Winner

May 19, 2021

Two-time National Book Award winner, MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant recipient, Tulane University creative writing professor, and renowned author Jesmyn Ward gave a brief reading and was interviewed by BLACC (Black Leadership Awareness and Culture Club) leaders. Ward is the author of the acclaimed novels Where the Line Bleeds, Salvage the Bones, and Sing, Unburied, Sing and the memoir Men We Reaped. She is also the editor of the anthology The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race.

MESA Presentation and Open Forum on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

May 18, 2021

"We discussed the complex evolution of combustible terms such as genocide, crimes against humanity, racism, reconciliation, and reparations. We looked at the intricate relations between warring ethnic groups, issues of conflict resolution, and the challenges of framing the past. Events like this elicit provocative engagement, advance knowledge, and engender further questions on controversial topics that students, teachers, and the Harvard-Westlake community at large grapple with. They provide a forum for attentive listening, thoughtful reflection, and variegated voices that will allow our community to grow and, hopefully, get closer in the process. Certitude is both a stifling and dangerous phenomenon, while healthy doubt allows budding minds to wonder and expand intellectually and emotionally."

Dror Yaron
MESA Faculty Advisor

BLACC (Black Leadership Awareness and Culture Club) Retreat

August 21, 2021

On the weekend before classes began, current BLACC members spanning 7th through 12th grade gathered to welcome in new members, reconnect to old ones, and plan for the year ahead! The leaders created and presented Black August Research projects, completed a service project in support of School on Wheels, and had fun making TikTok dances!

Cinema Sundays, featuring Jake Gyllenhaal ’98 discussing Brokeback Mountain

May 16, 2021

For the final Cinema Sunday of the 2020-2021 season, Jake Gyllenhaal '98 joined Ted Walch to look back at Brokeback Mountain, Ang Lee's heartbreaking adaptation of Annie Proulx's short story.

All-School Community Time, featuring transgender actor and artist Hunter Schafer

May 14, 2021

"Hunter's advice to her high school self stood out because she spoke about the balance of expressing yourself and remaining safe. I think safety is often overlooked when teenagers are given the advice to 'just be yourself,' and I was glad that she brought up the nuance of what that might mean for someone in the LGBTQ+ community. I am used to speakers who are significantly older than HW students and realized during the conversation that a speaker like Hunter Schafer who is closer to our age makes what she says much more relatable to the audience. The more people hear from and talk with people with different backgrounds or opinions, the more they are able to be empathetic and understanding."

Helen Graham '21 

Upper School SLIDE (Student Leadership in Inclusion, Diversity and Equity) Seminar on Student Citizenship

May 10, 2021

Planned by student leaders, this seminar during Community Time was designed to encourage dialogue, learning, and personal as well as community reflection around essential questions of student citizenship in 2021. The event included an intro webinar and community conversation consisting of choose-your-own-adventure interactive breakout room workshops led by faculty and staff. Workshop topics included socially engaged art, structural racism, emotionally processing the past year, (non)partisanship, and student activism. Students, faculty, and staff were encouraged to consider these questions: How do you strike a balance between engaging with news of social injustices and keeping up with your academics? Tell us about some of the challenges of this during the 20-21 school year. How is our school encouraging practices of care and changemaking in high school so that we grow to be caring adults who engage in changing our communities/country/world? How can HW do better in this regard?

Anti Asian Racism, a conversation with Dr. Karen Korematsu

May 10, 2021

Harvard-Westlake's Asian American Culture Club (AACC) hosted a special conversation and all community webinar with Dr. Karen Korematsu, civil rights activist and daughter of Fred Korematsu, who challenged Japanese American incarceration during WW2.

DEI Lunch with Bettina Love, author of We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom

May 6, 2021

"Bettina Love empowered me as an African American woman to have agency and confidence to always be my authentic self and to be unafraid to use my voice in the spaces where I might not feel I belong. Her permission to be fearless was brilliant and compassionate. But what I loved most was that her messaging was as powerful for me as it was for our young people. There were times when she made pointed comments and suggestions for our students, but in general, all of Dr. Love's lessons were applicable to the unheard, the unseen, and unaccepted, no matter their age or experience in life. Because we are a place of intellectual discourse, it is supremely important for minority voices to hear from an outside expert and learned source that how they are feeling is valid and right…no matter how much people (whether they are well-meaning or cruel) tell them they are wrong."

Nia Kilgore
Upper School Dean

HW Parents DEI Cinematic Discussion of 13th, featuring Senator Cory Booker and Professor Laurie Levenson

May 4, 2021

Ava DuVernay's 13th is a thought-provoking documentary that lays bare the intersection of race, justice, and mass incarceration in America. Senator Cory Booker, featured in 13th, spoke to his work in the Senate and proposed legislation to address bias and incarceration rates. Professor Laurie Levenson, Founding Faculty Director of Loyola Project for the Innocent, facilitated the conversation with Senator Booker and shared her professional experience overturning numerous wrongful convictions. The evening also included a panel discussion with Jarrett Adams, who was wrongfully convicted of a crime he did not commit at age 17. (See Jarrett’s story here.) The panel also included HW students and Loyola Project for the Innocent interns Samantha McLoughlin '21 and Izzy Welsh '22. 

Upper School Community Meeting featuring Susanne Reyto

April 23, 2021

We were graced by the presence of Susanne Reyto, an award-winning author and speaker who is a child survivor of the Holocaust. She authored Destination Freedom and Pursuit of Freedom, is a member and chairman of multiple organizations, and is a powerful speaker striving to educate on the history of the Holocaust. Susanne Reyto told us her story, which conveyed her perseverance and optimism throughout her life and offered her unique insight on how to combat present day antisemitism.

Upper School Community Meeting featuring Dr. Andrea M. Ghez

April 14, 2021

We welcomed Dr. Andrea M. Ghez, astronomer and professor at the UCLA Department of Physics and Astronomy. 

Dr. Ghez focuses her research on demonstrating the existence of a supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy. Dr. Ghez has followed her passion for investigating black holes as a way to understand our galaxy and the universe. Her list of accomplishments is massive; recently, she was one of the recipients of the Nobel Prize in Physics for her research. Furthermore, she has done work promoting women in STEM, especially in the field of astronomy.

Upper School Community Meeting featuring Rabbi Sharon Brous

March 23, 2021

Rabbi Brous discussed various topics related to Jewish identity, anti-Semitism, the relevance of religion and what is religion’s role in social justice. 

Rabbi Brous is a leading voice in reanimating religious life in America, working to develop a spiritual road map for soulful, multi- faith justice work in Los Angeles and around the country. Brous is the senior and founding Rabbi of IKAR, which was started in 2004 and has become a model for Jewish revitalization in the US and beyond. With the goal of reinvigorating Jewish practice and inspiring people of faith to reclaim a moral and prophetic voice, IKAR quickly became one of the fastest growing and most influential Jewish congregations in the country. Today it is credited with sparking a rethinking of religious life in a time of unprecedented disaffection and declining affiliation.

ASiA's All-Community Reflection on Anti-Asian Hate

March 19, 2021

Asian Students in Action (ASiA) hosted a virtual space for our HW community to learn, empathize, and grow after two weekends of in-person community outreach to Asian-owned businesses across LA. “Throughout the pandemic we have seen a devastating increase in anti-Asian hate crimes in not only our Los Angeles community but throughout the entire country. Just this week, reported hate crimes included six Asian-American women who were murdered in Atlanta and four other elderly Asian-Americans who faced violence and assault in California. ASiA is hosting a space for discussion and reflection on these issues, the emotional impact from them, and what comes next.”

Harvard-Westlake Chinese Cultural Club Spring Student Career Panel

March 14, 2021

A panel discussion made up of of accomplished young HWCCC alumni was followed by breakout sessions for students to engage with the panelists up close.

HW Faculty & Staff Diversity Council Meeting

March 11, 2021

"The article we read for today was validation for why we are doing what we are doing and I hope we can reference it when we encounter any 'noise' that this work is not worthwhile. Making the members of our community (particularly students) feel welcome and included is important. Even the smallest gesture goes a long way, and our students are paying attention and watching for signs that they are valued. The Diversity Council allows us to have a safe space to have challenging conversations and explore new ways to bring the rest of the community along as we collectively examine and improve upon our antiracist goals. This is an ongoing process that will require the efforts of all members and a commitment to continue to grow and improve the climate and culture of our school. I am happy to be part of such an energetic and welcoming team of professionals and do what I can to help move the needle of progress in the right direction."

Tim Smith, Administrative Assistant

HW DEI Alumni Advisory Council Inaugural Meeting

March 9, 2021

"I was surprised by the range of experiences that my fellow alums have had at Harvard-Westlake and walked away realizing that I have more questions to ask and that I need to spend more time listening. It’s an impressive group of individuals and I look forward to more in-depth dialogues."

Carrie Lee '95

Meditation Family Social, brought to you by Harvard-Westlake Chinese Cultural Club

February 28, 2021

Dr. Bill Stubbeman P'25 '25, a psychiatrist in private practice in West LA who also operates a dedicated meditation practice, discussed the various types of meditation and their benefits, as well as key techniques in visualizing, concentration, and mindfulness, followed by a 45-minute meditation session with the members of HWCCC.

How to Make Chirashi Sushi with JAG

February 26, 2021

Hiromi Higashi taught HW's Japanese Affinity Group how to make chirashi sushi, complete with an ingredient list and recipe, so families could follow along and eat it for dinner when they were done.

Cameron Shaw ’00 named executive director of the California African American Museum

February 22, 2021

Cameron Shaw '00 has been named executive director of the California African American Museum, located just 15 miles from Harvard-Westlake’s middle school campus. Congratulations, Cameron! In March, check out CAAM’s virtual events in honor of Women’s History Month

JAG meeting featuring Olympic water polo player Johnny Hooper '15 and Coach Brian Flacks

February 21, 2021

"Johnny Hooper is a world-class athlete, but he's also so much more. He's a true student athlete, having earned his degree at the Haas School of Business while racking up national honors in the pool. It was wonderful to meet an Olympic athlete competing for the United States who is of Asian ancestry, and students who share his heritage can hear his story and believe that their own dreams are more possible. But just as important is how these events highlight how much we all have in common. Every water sports athlete who has shivered on the deck of an outdoor pool for a 6 a.m. winter workout can identify with his discipline and sacrifice. Every athlete can identify with the faith involved in practice and the pressure that accompanies big moments of competition. Every human being can relate to the crushing weight of failure, and the resilience and resourcefulness needed to rise above it. Coach Flacks told the story of how on the very day that Johnny learned he hadn't made the 2016 Olympic team, he not only came to practice, but wanted to stay and work to get better. I can't imagine the pressure Johnny must have felt going through the selection process all over again four years later, and I am inspired by his determination and courage."

Lori Shiotani P'23 '26
JAG member

Chinese New Year Celebration with HWCCC

February 21, 2021

"It's been such a challenging and isolating year for the HW community as well as our global community. So I find myself joining many virtual gatherings like this event to keep me connected. I was once again able to appreciate what a family-like community Harvard Westlake really can be--that we genuinely wish each other wellness and miss and value each other as seniors, new and current students, faculty, administration, and family. It was also wonderful to see the seniors celebrated as a class in their very special year. More than ever, this year, our hopefulness and wishing each other a better and healthy new year was heartwarming and poignant. I came away grateful and hopeful."

Donna Ko P'19 '23 '23 

HWFC Cooking Class with Virginie Degryse

February 20, 2021

Virginie Degryse is a Harvard Westlake mom of three, cooking instructor and food blogger. She is passionate about food, healthy cooking and putting together easy-to-prepare family meals. She put together a menu for participants and sent the ingredients in advance so they could either sit back and watch or cook along!

Student Diversity Leadership Conference presentation at Upper School Faculty/Staff Meeting

February 19, 2021

"I've been lucky to attend many DEI events at Harvard-Westlake, and somehow the Zoom exercise [during which SDLC student leaders asked faculty and staff to turn their video off, then back on if they identified with particular groups, had talked to students about race, etc.] had the biggest impact because students asked faculty to be vulnerable and share information about their own identities and experiences. I left with a strong visual impression of how alone people can feel when they are one of the few from a particular background. These discussions create situations where we remember how hard it is to feel excluded and different and that we have a responsibility to see how we contribute to making others feel that way."

Edie Darling, US Librarian

Purim Hamantaschen Baking with the HW Jewish Family Alliance

February 19, 2021

Sharon Steiglitz P'26, P'22 taught participants her recipe for the traditional cookie associated with Purim, hamantaschen, as well as options for different types of fillings. Our baking events are always so much fun--we laugh and follow along with Sharon's instructions and tips together in our kitchens and share stories of baking memories with our family and friends.

Shana Glassman '20 '22 '24, JWFA Leader 

Brown Bag Lunch featuring BLACC student leaders

February 15, 2021

"I am always so impressed with HW students and their ability to articulate complex topics with such clarity. They offer such valuable insight into the student-lived experience that I can then apply as a teacher and mentor. And with a spirit of love and respect for one another! It was eye opening to learn about 'stereotype threat' and how detrimental this is to people and their ability to perform at their best. In my class afterward, we talked about this, and it was a great way to connect with my group beyond our scheduled course curriculum. The Brown Bag lunch sessions have been one of the more valuable professional tools available to me at HW; I always gain so much inspiration and perspective from them."

Jesse Chehak '97, Upper School Visual Arts Teacher

A Night of Short French Films with the Harvard-Westlake French Club

February 12, 2021

Théâtre Raymond Kabbaz and Alliance Française de Los Angeles presente Le Festival de Courts Métrages Français à Los Angeles (A Night of Short French Films), selections from the top short film festivals in France, including one César nomination. 

Raising Kids Amidst a Culture of Calling Out: Parent Speaker Event

February 11, 2021

Activist, professor, and author Dr. Loretta Ross discussed cancel culture and how it affects our children. Sponsored by HW Parents and School Speaker Alliance of Los Angeles (SSALA).

Dumpling Making with Japanese Language & Culture Club

February 11, 2021

A fellow club leader's parent helped lead a group of students and parents in the dumpling making process on the day before Lunar New Year began for 2021. It was fun being able to watch everyone cooking in their kitchens, interacting with each other, and laughing about our messy dumplings and mishaps together. It was a really nice way to bond with and get to know peers while cooking delicious food. The dumplings turned out really yummy and it was a super nice event.

Averie Perrin '24, JLCC Leader

Unceasing Militant: The Life of Mary Church Terrell by Alison Parker '83

February 10, 2021

Alumna author Alison Parker '83 led a discussion on her book Unceasing Militant: The Life of Mary Church Terrell, moderated by HW English and communications teacher Juliet Suess.

BLACC meeting celebrating Black History Month and featuring Elijah Lee

February 10, 2021

"I just wanted to say thank you to Elijah for what he has done for me and others in this Zoom meeting. You are by far the most insightful young person I have ever had the pleasure to speak with. Your admirable delivery and perspective really touched our hearts today. It was like listening to the next Martin Luther King Jr. (with the passion and heart of Malcolm X, obviously). Your words were exactly what I needed this morning. Please keep doing what you are doing and follow your dreams!"

Aidan Romain '26

Middle School Assembly featuring Austin Channing Brown, author of I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness

February 8, 2021

"It is essential to learn about the struggles different communities face daily, even if you are not a part of the community. These discussions help make students of color feel accepted and supported by their school by highlighting their communities' issues. I believe this is an essential part of creating a comfortable school environment where students feel welcome and supported by the people around them to be their truest selves. When asked about how her work would make a difference in the larger scheme of things, Ms. Brown said she didn't plan to have a national position or be in the government. She said she felt she was making a difference by talking to young people and educating them. This resonated with me because it showed that you do not have to be president or the most famous person in the world to be influential and make a difference. Austin Channing Brown inspired me not only to try and make a change in the world but to find my passion and change the world while doing it."

Hunter Bridgett '24

HW Parents DEI Committee Book Talk on Caste, Part 3

February 4, 2021

"Although I knew that the trauma that our ancestors were subjected to still affects us today in a myriad of ways, I had never thought about it in terms of a caste system. Conversations like we had surrounding Caste are invaluable because instead of coming together as a community in a reactive manner when the n-word is used or someone is offended about an inappropriate comment or behavior, we came together to talk in a proactive manner to discuss."

Anita Otaño P'15

HWCCC Parents' Social: Cardio Dance Zumba

February 3, 2021

"It's been difficult to maintain a sense of community this year, and I value the efforts made by parent volunteers to keep us all connected. I decided to join the HWCCC Zoom Zumba class because it provided an opportunity to try something new, connect with HW parents, get in a little exercise, and show my support for and engagement with the cultural clubs at HW. While I don’t have a direct connection to the Chinese culture, I got to know some members of HWCCC through my work volunteering on the Faculty Appreciation Committee and decided to join the group because of all the great events and the ability to connect with a small subset of the HW community. What struck me about the Zumba class was how welcome I felt. I loved the instructor and thought the organizers had arranged for a great event with both social and physical rewards. Already a member of a couple parent cultural clubs, I decided to join a few more this year. It has been a wonderful opportunity to get to know more parents, learn about other cultures, and have fun."

Christopher Mehta P'23 '26

HWCHAIPA Ladies Night

January 29, 2021

"In this age of Zoom fatigue, we wanted a casual fun event without any agenda where the moms could just relax, have a drink, have some laughs, and get a break. Although organized by HWCHAIPA [The Harvard-Westlake Cultural Heritage & Arts of India Parents' Association], it was so nice to see so many affinity group leaders join. I love the camaraderie that we share. We had some moms new to HW join and it was nice to get to know them in a casual environment and share laughs and anecdotes. Hopefully they felt a little more connected as well."

Supriya Pande, HWCHAIPA leader

HWCCC Fire and Ice Concert

January 24, 2021

The HWCCC (Harvard-Westake Chinese Cultural Club) gathered for an unforgettable evening of classical music, thanks to Bing Wang, Associate concertmaster of LA Philharmonic, and Kelly Choi, founder of Santa Monica Piano Academy. The virtual event was led by co-chairs Heidi Zhu, Christina Zhong, and Di Fan, supported by volunteers Sherrie Wang, Yuan Dai, Christine Jiang, Rachel Yang, Donna Ko, and Laura Tao.

HW Black Caucus Black Village Talk featuring All American Executive Producer Nkechi Carroll

January 22, 2021

About 40 participants gathered via Zoom to talk about the TV show All American with seventh grade dean Jon Carroll and his wife, Executive Producer Nkechi Carroll, who shared her personal journey to reach the success that she has worked so hard for.

HW Parents DEI Committee Book Talk on Caste, Part 2

January 21, 2021

"Caste is opening our eyes to see what other people's experiences have been in America and in other countries. The author's intent is to include voices and perspectives that often are unheard, invisible, silenced, or erased from history. HW's Courageous Conversations are helping to break that silence, educate, and raise awareness through learning and empathy."

Anita Dashiell-Sparks P'22 '22 '26

Cinema Sundays: I Am Not Your Negro

Jan 10, 2021

More than 95 community members gathered for a robust discussion about the powerful documentary I Am Not Your Negro hosted by Ted Walch and Janine Hancock Jones for Cinema Sundays. In the film, James Baldwin says "I am terrified at the moral apathy, the death of the heart, which is happening in my country. These people deluded themselves for so long that they really don’t think I'm human." Students led the way during an hour long discourse about facing racism, the importance and complexities of representation, elements of powerful storytelling, and how we can empathize and stand up for one another.

HW Parents DEI Committee Book Talk on Caste, by Isabel Wilkerson

January 7, 2021

"As a Latinx woman and chemistry professor, I have dedicated my career to promoting science to both women and underrepresented populations; as a parent, I have tried to raise a socially aware son who understands equity differences in opportunity and treatment of different races and socioeconomic populations. This book talk demonstrated the clear community that exists around DEI ideas at HW, and I enjoyed the honest sharing and different perspectives on these issues. I'm excited to continue the conversation and hear how HW is incorporating these ideas into the curriculum."

Veronica Jaramillo P'26

HW Jewish Family Alliance meeting featuring Tracy Walder, author of The Unexpected Spy

January 5, 2021

"I read Tracy Walder’s book in the summer of 2020 and found her story to be an incredible example of the different paths our lives can take after college. Though we are both USC graduates, her path is way more adventurous than mine. I enjoyed hearing the angle she took with this presentation [how being Jewish affected her work in the CIA and FBI]. We must continue to teach our children to recognize anti-Semitic and antifemale conversations and actions in their world. It also wasn't lost on me that Tracy discussed domestic terrorism just hours before the attack on our nation's Capitol. She is a wealth of information and has a background that makes her teaching and discussions so relevant to our current events. On a personal note, I’m thrilled the HWJFA affinity group was formed. This is our 11th year at HW and I’m proud to see the DEI work to make our HW community even stronger. Thank you to the DEI team."

Ronna Berlin P'16 '19 '23

BLACC meeting: Curls & Conversation, featuring guest speaker Charity Butler of Count It All Curls

December 18, 2020

"What makes good hair? It’s all good hair. You just have to learn how to care for your own unique texture, embrace it, love it, and appreciate it."

Charity Butler

Brown Bag Lunch on Takeaways from the 2020 People of Color Conference

December 16, 2020

"What I took away from the People of Color Conference was that we have to stop sugarcoating the reality of our country’s history and centering white fragility. So much has been lost. Dr. Bettina L. Love spoke with so much passion, accuracy, and truth. When activist, poet and songwriter Lyla June shared her beautiful song, 'All Nations Rise,' I shed tears. So many don't want us to unite with love, but if we want to reach this country’s ideals, of liberty and justice for all, we must. If we work together, really hear, see, and feel each other, we could reach the light. I hope this Brown Bag helped to open the hearts and minds of our community and that we continue to share our stories."

Yutopia Essex
Benefits Administrator & Coordinator of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion


BLACC meeting: Colorism, featuring guest speaker Chika Okoro

December 11, 2020

"I asked Chika, 'How do I give my dark skin friend a compliment when she's not feeling herself without coming across like I’m pitying her?' Chika's response was, ‘It seems like you care a lot about this friend, and you genuinely think she is beautiful. Just trust that your compliment will come across as genuine since your intentions are genuine.'"

Makeda Neavill '21

Japanese-American Affinity Group Sake Tasting

December 11, 2020

"One of our primary goals is to create a sense of community among families, something that is particularly important and challenging during quarantine. Because we could not throw an in-person holiday gathering, we contacted the owners of the Japanese restaurant and bar, Tsubaki and Ototo, who host virtual sake tasting classes. Although there were about 50 people on the Zoom, people were able to connect through the tasting. In breakout rooms, we started talking about sake but ended end up talking about other things, like our families, and got to know one another better. One group stayed on the Zoom, which started at 8, until nearly 10:30. HW JAG welcomes all families, faculty, and staff, who have an interest in Japanese and Japanese-American culture and want to get to know other people at school. We are planning a virtual Japanese cooking class and a parent roundtable, where member families share their experience with the college admissions process. We hope that people continue to join us!"

Audra Mori P'24'26
JAG Leader

Athletics Department DEI Training with Alison Park

December 11, 2020

"The talk touched on the importance of everyone buying into the idea of antiracism and not just doing the minimum. I learned how looking at this situation from different perspectives can help us understand the obstacles to doing this type of work. I am excited to continue to look at how we can focus on equity and what that means. We have lots of people focused on providing tangible solutions for our community."

Junior Amazan
Wrestling Program Head

Diversity Council Meeting

December 10, 2020

"Fairness has always been important to me, and I really don’t like the idea that any of my students feel less seen or heard or accepted than anyone else. This has led me to do a lot of self-reflection, attend conferences, read books, etc., which led me to want to be part of this group of like-minded people hoping we can work on these issues at our school. I enjoy the fact that these meetings allow me to interact with people from both campuses and all departments while sharing a common cause. The participants were all there for similar reasons, but there were individuals representing many cultures, religions, ethnicities, genders, orientations, departments, and ages. I came away feeling that I’m not alone in this work and that, while it will never be completed, each time we discuss and question things we move one step forward."

Geoff Robertson
Middle School Science Teacher

HW Alumni Book Club featuring Jacob Soboroff on his book, Separated: Inside an American Tragedy

November 30, 2020

"I grew up with Jacob, so it was interesting to see how he has combined his interest in civic issues with his ability to tell stories. Jacob's focus on the fact that we all bear a collective responsibility, and that this is not a partisan issue, was very important. Another thing I took away from the event is the importance of acting as an observer and being as unbiased as possible when reporting."

Jessica Richman '01

Empower Meeting Featuring Yahlin Chang P'24, writer for The Handmaid's Tale

November 18, 2020

"I am an avid fan of The Handmaid's Tale, so I loved the opportunity to get an inside look into the writer's room. As Ms. Chang said, many things that happen in The Handmaid’s Tale are things that are really happening. I left the presentation with a stronger drive to learn about the unimaginable things women are experiencing throughout the world. What I remember most is Ms. Chang's honesty. She was not scared to admit how her career has affected her personal life or mental health and showed vulnerability throughout the discussion."

Olivia Smith '21
Co-Leader of Empower 

Inaugural Harvard-Westlake Jewish Family Alliance Meeting Featuring Dr. Stephen Smith of the USC Shoah Foundation

November 16, 2020

"I appreciate that there is a like-minded community of people with whom we can connect in a way that is aligned with Harvard-Westlake's mission. The Jewish Family Alliance is an opportunity to create dialogue and connections about our experiences and the values our heritage shares with other communities at HW. What stood out about this meeting was Dr. Stephen Smith’s personal story of how he emerged from a coal-mining community to devote himself to the cause of educating the world about genocide. I’m grateful to the school and the organizers for putting this together."

Theodore Rand P'22
Harvard-Westlake Jewish Family Alliance member

Cinema Sundays featuring Angela Bassett on Black Panther

November 15, 2020

"What stood out to me most about what Angela Bassett had to say was her thoughts and emotions leading up to the premiere of Black Panther. Her words brought me to realize how deeply personal that experience was for her individually in addition to the personal meaning of the movie for all Black Americans. I walked away with a greater understanding of her career and a new list of must-see movies! She really was inspiring."

Spencer Flippen '21

SLIDE Training Led by Janine Hancock Jones and the DEI Team

October 30, 2020

"We learned a lot about intersectionality, but the most important part was the conversation between student leaders. Students in every grade engaging in conversation is something we don't see a lot at Harvard-Westlake, and it was really awesome to learn about clubs at the upper school. I left the training with such a clear understanding of what I want to change about the way I lead. My co-leaders and I are going to make sure we let people talk more in our meetings because now we understand the value of as much conversation as possible."

Ella Jacobs '24
Co-Leader of the Ms. "Simon Says" Girls Club

Courtney Vance at the MS 9th grade class meeting on Fences

October 27, 2020

"I was so excited to have Mr. Vance share his story with our students. Most of the students had seen the clip in class of him as Cory in the 'how come you ain’t never liked me' scene from Fences (Act 1, Scene 3), so they were already familiar with his role and his acting. I appreciated that the students asked some really thoughtful questions that got to the heart of Cory's character and sought insight into Mr. Vance's inspiration and experience on stage in what became such an influential play. I enjoyed hearing his story about how he found out about the part of Cory from a posting in the library and how this role really launched his career. It was inspiring for our students to hear how he went from an unknown acting student to winning theater awards for his debut performance."

Karen Fukushima
Middle School Dean & History/Social Studies Teacher

Anti-Bias & Anti-Racism (ABAR) 101

October 27, 2020

"ABAR 101 came about as a way to teach people the basics of anti-bias and anti-racism. These concepts get thrown around all the time, and yet go undefined. How do we do the work without knowing our connection to these systems? Anti-bias work starts at the individual level, so at the first meeting, we looked at our identities and got to know ourselves on a deeper level without judgment. I think this work is important for everyone. Even the most aware people can learn more about themselves and the world around them. Every time I attend a workshop that focuses on myself—whether that's an ABAR workshop or yoga or professional development—I learn something new that can help me become a better teacher or person, that can help me become closer to my authentic self."

Juliet Suess 
Middle School English and Communications Teacher

Brown Bag Lunch: Fierce Conversations Part 2 Led by Yutopia Essex & Reb Limerick in collaboration with division heads and the DEI team

October 26 & 27, 2020

"I enjoyed watching the HW leaders in role-playing demonstrations and found them to be vulnerable and open. One faculty member role-played asking a student for more participation in the classroom. Another was an administrator answering questions about grading and the choices of books in the curriculum. It’s not easy to have an answer for every challenge, but it was refreshing to see the exchange of ideas and tips. I interact with so many people and tend to want to give advice, but I learned from the book Fierce Conversations that the best gift you can give someone is the purity of your attention without interruption. One of the bright spots this fall has been the creation of the HW Parents DEI Parent Committee. The book Fierce Conversations has been helpful as we navigate subjects that will continue to evoke fierce conversations."

Portia Collins P'97 '97
Parents' Activities Liaison

Japanese Language & Culture Club Meeting featuring Robert Kikkawa

October 20, 2020

"Mr. Kikkawa's story left us speechless, as every word was full of pain, hope, and wisdom. Mr. Kikkawa's compelling story about his life at the internment camps and the hardships he was forced to face made us realize how blessed we are. Stories like Mr. Kikkawa's are what make our roles as JLCC leaders even more engaging. We love spreading the Japanese culture to others and are always grateful for these experiences."

Nicole Lee '24 JLCC Leader

Pollyanna Conference 2020 - Courageous Conversations: Learning to Connect Authentically and with Compassion

October 17, 2020

"Our keynote speaker, Baratunde Thurston, was riveting. Not only did his message hit some profound notes about the challenges we face in 2020 America, but he also offered words of solace and empowerment to effect change. It felt like a conversation, not a speech; he drew us in with his personal anecdotes and candor. I also appreciated the honesty, humor, and willingness to share—even it meant being vulnerable—of the participants in the small group sessions. I will take away the idea that what we say (and don’t say) and what we do (and don't do) has an immediate and sometimes long-lasting impact on our colleagues and students. I will work harder to be an empathetic listener and model that in my classrooms. I will continue to encourage my students to listen, not simply hear what others are saying. I will encourage them to ask questions, because we don't know what we don't know."

Cathy James 
Middle School English Teacher

LGBTQIA+ Annual Safe Space Training, led by Dr. Nate Cardin, upper school science teacher

October 8, 2020

"I realized the importance of the school community for LGBTQIA+ students and that, for some students, it can be the only place where they feel safe expressing their identity, especially during quarantine. I took away a renewed dedication to regularly checking in with my students to better understand what they are experiencing in their lives and all that they are negotiating in these times. I also appreciated the information on all of the school organizations that support the HW LGBTQIA+ community." 

Michele Spears
Upper School Performing Arts Teacher

Brown Bag Lunch: Fierce Conversations Part 1

September 30 & October 1, 2020

"Reading Fierce Conversations is an eye opener. It gives you so many good tips on how to have necessary but difficult conversations. The Brown Bag was educational and engaging. We were able to go into a breakout room and practice the tools that we learned from the book. In a difficult situation, the first thing we often do is to assume bad intentions. It’s best to ask questions in order to know exactly what the other person meant to say or do. If you don’t ask, then you may draw the wrong conclusions about what the person really means."

Dulce Perloff
Bookstore Associate

Peer Support & Prefect Council anti-bias training with Liza Talusan

September 25, 2020

"The number one thing I remember is an activity where we determined the aspects of our identities that are closest to and furthest from us. It was super eye-opening. I realized that the things I put on the outermost circle tended to line up with my subconscious biases. Sometimes it's hard to get at your deepest prejudices, but this exercise helped me realize that everyone has stuff like that and get a better hold on those biases and maybe work through them. It’s easy to think that you’re a great leader because you lead a certain type of person well, but when you really start to think about the diversity of perspectives and struggles among your peers and the people you lead, you realize how much room there is to grow. The most important part of being a leader is realizing that we all have to work together to make a space for communication and support. You have to do the hard work to be a better leader for everyone."

Shanti Hinkin '22
Peer Support Trainee

Community Flex Time featuring Wes Moore

September 18 & 29, 2020

"Wes Moore was engaging and funny and charismatic even over Zoom and even in the face of describing his own struggles as a Black man. His storytelling was powerful and moving, and more than once, I got emotional about his story and the lessons he was describing. His commentary about our country and the need for education was deeply intertwined in his own journey, the combination both inspiring and humbling. Mr. Moore highlighted the need for the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion for everybody at our school. By emphasizing the intersection of education and equitable society, he reminded me that there is no better place to start than in the classroom, and to have it addressed in such a thoughtful way felt galvanizing. I am also pleased that we got to do discussion rooms after. Even if it was awkward, I think giving the entire school community space to reflect on this speaking was important and even more necessary with our current Zoom format.' 

Mia Shelton '21

DEI Training During New Faculty Orientation

August 13 & 14, 2020

"I was impressed with how deeply the HW community cares about the lived experiences of its students, faculty, and staff, especially around issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Our training challenged us to confront inherent bias and systemic racism, and to become more empathic and curious listeners. As one of our facilitators explained, this type of interpersonal training is difficult, but the reward is that it humanizes all of us. I'm excited to be joining a community so committed to this work. I left the training feeling confident that I had new skills to help me better understand and support my students. I also felt energized by the new perspectives that I gained on the subjects that I teach and methods for engaging students in challenging conversations. As a result of this training I adopted a new mantra for this year—'practice curiosity' and 'listen to learn.'"

Peter Sheehy
Upper School History Teacher

SLIDE Town Hall on Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor

May 28, 2020

"After Ahmaud Arbery was shot, SLIDE wanted to create a space for Black students to reflect and heal—and also open space for others to hear about the Black experience. Then George Floyd was murdered right before the meeting. This was the first time I'd seen anyone killed. It was so painful after seeing so much violence against so many Black people for so long. We'd thought there would be 20 or 30 people, but the turnout was more than 160—mainly faculty. It felt like more of Harvard-Westlake was on my side than I thought. What really made an impact was the people writing to me—'Cameron, I’m proud of you, I hear you, I see you'—and adding their own reflections. It lit a fire under me and energized me and a lot of other people that maybe we can finally make some long overdue structural changes at Harvard-Westlake and in this country. We’re making plans and keeping the momentum going."

Cameron Herring
Co-Leader of SLIDE (Student Leadership in Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity)

Brando Skyhorse’s Author Visit to Jenna Dillon-Gasparino's English III: Living America Class

May 27, 2020

"Mr. Skyhorse’s description of [the role of] race in the USA, and in LA specifically, led to some interesting discussion about passing and cultural norms, as well as about how attainable the American Dream is for minorities in America. I learned a lot about the population of LA and the history of the city, which impacts the modern day in so many ways. Mr. Skyhorse was extremely friendly, interesting, and informative, and the wisdom that he shared from the events of his life was universal. I definitely came out of the discussion feeling like I had even more to think about than when I came in.'

Daniel Novikov '21
Student facilitator for the talk

ASiA (Asian Students in Action) Brown Bag Lunch

May 27, 2020

"What stood out most was how enthusiastic the faculty was to attend the event and ask questions. I also appreciated the fact that our panel of eight (including two from the middle school) represented a wide portion of the Asian American population, which itself is an incredibly diverse group. We had panelists from four different clubs (ASiA, South Asian Student Association, Japanese Language and Culture Club, and Asian American Culture Club). Events like this hold so much power because they open up a direct line of communication with educators and have the potential to inspire change--or even just let teachers know when they are already doing a great job."

Justin Park '20
ASiA leader

MS Multicultural Week

May 11-15, 2020

"I am the founder and co-president of SASA (South Asian Students Association), which is a branch of the Asian American Culture Club. The AACC’s Multicultural Day had an emphasis on food--how comfort foods make us feel, and how they connect us to a culture that second- or third-generation Americans may feel far removed from. Obviously, though, we couldn’t share our favorite Asian foods with others via Zoom. Instead, we played a game similar to online Pictionary. Our theme was Asian foods, which we discussed as we drew. This allowed us to share our personal experiences with our favorite Asian foods and play a fun game at the same time. In the AACC meeting, and from what I’ve heard from other club leaders, there was a phenomenal turnout of at least two Zoom pages of people tuning in and engaged in the activities for every meeting."

Nilufer Mistry Sheasby
South Asian Students Association (branch of the Asian American Culture Club) co-president

Virtual Upper School Multicultural Week

May 4-8, 2020

"As wonderful as the energy of the in-person multicultural fair is, I actually enjoyed parts of this experience more--because there was only one club meeting at any given time, you weren't flitting from table to table, and instead got the sense that you were experiencing the programming the club had prepared in its entirety. Gender & Sexuality Alliance's in-school booth would have been a lot of candy and music, but in the virtual setup we did a much more subdued 'object show and tell' where participants presented an object or keepsake that was important to them or their identity. It was still fun, just different."

Felicity Phelan '21
Gender & Sexuality Awareness Leader 

Coach Mel Tucker (head football coach for Michigan State University) and HW athletics staff virtual meeting

May 4, 2020

"This was my first time meeting Coach Tucker, but I have always been a fan. The biggest thing I took from his talk was the importance of being true to yourself. Being a head coach, you get faced with tough decisions, and it’s important to stick to who you are and what you believe."

Aaron Huerta
Football Program Head & Physical Education Teacher

Parent Affinity Group Virtual Chat & Connect hosted by the DEI Office

April 29, 2020

"Connecting within and among the affinity groups provided support in these hard times via sharing our experiences, offering to help each other out, and getting to know ourselves better in this unusual context. [HW parents' activities liaison] Portia Collins is a master at bringing us together and creating a sense of community. The importance of human connection is what always stands out, the feeling of being part of something. We would love more HW families to join our clubs. You don’t need to identify with a certain culture to be a part of a club; everyone is welcome."

Mariana Dietl
Head of Latino Parents Association (LAPA)

Middle School Black Leadership and Culture Club (BLACC) virtual meeting with Bre-Z

April 22, 2020

"At first it was really nerve-wracking to have Bre-Z on a Zoom meeting with us because I had just binged every episode of All American with my sister over spring break and am a huge fan of the show. But I soon noticed that her words could inspire anyone. She was so chill. You can just tell by the way she talks that she has a big heart. She’s a great person to look up to if you’re an aspiring actor or just want good life advice."

Crystin Herring '25
Co-Leader of BLACC