A dedicated and passionate group of students at Morristown High School has been working diligently over the last year to help the MSD actualize its goals for equity, inclusion, and anti-racism. They are members of the MHS Equity and Inclusion Student Council, which was recently selected to represent Morris County for the NJ State Board of Education Student Recognition Program. The group was recognized for this distinction at the State’s Student Recognition Award Ceremony.
According to Interim Executive County Superintendent Dr. Timothy Purnell, the MHS E&I Student Council created a submission that was not only well-crafted and engaging, but which stood out to the judging panel because of its “multi-faceted approach to creating an anti-racist environment.”
With the support and guidance of MHS educators Matthew Carmel and Tanya Cepeda, the students have used their powerful voices, courageous conversations, and advocacy to drive important changes to district systems and raise awareness of the impact that racism and racist acts have on students' academic success as well as their social and emotional well-being. Mr. Carmel remarked, “It has been the supreme honor of my career to work with such a dedicated, thoughtful and compassionate group of young people. Together they have taken bold and courageous actions to shape policies which will forever impact the students of the Morris School District. Their legacy of leadership is beyond compare.” Mrs. Cepeda added, “Their dedication to creating a more equitable environment at MSD has been their top priority this year. Along with completing their yearly studies, they have dedicated endless hours to this endeavor. This is a well-deserved honor.”
Since June of 2020, the Council has partnered with both high school and Central Office administration to effect real change in the district. Among their many accomplishments this past year, they provided outreach to MSD elementary schools through story time, encouraged middle schoolers of color to take higher level courses in high school, acted as a support system for students of color in AP and Honors classes at MHS, engaged English Language Learners in the high school and facilitated unification among all students regardless of language, provided input on and revisions to the district’s annual Equity and Inclusion student survey and helped Central Office analyze and respond to student data, collaborated with local police departments to improve community relations with law enforcement, and created and led professional development to all district faculty and staff on a very difficult topic--microaggressions.
The MHS Equity and Inclusion Student Council was founded during the 2018-19 school year in alignment with the MSD’s Equity and Inclusion Action Plan, which indicated among many other coordinated objectives a commitment to “provide opportunities for student voice.” From five original members, the group has now grown to over 60, including a 13-member executive board.