by AALIYAH DUNCAN ’19
A group of about forty Ridley High School students gathered in the boardroom at the beginning of the May. The students varied in age, grade level, race, personal views, a perfect idea of diversity. Mrs. Rigby, a guidance counselor at the high school, manages this event, the annual Leadership Tolerance. The purpose of this seminar is to introduce students to new people, surroundings, and viewpoints that may be different from their own.
“The purpose of this event is to initiate deliberation and talk about inequalities, stereotypes, and other forms of discrimination in our society today that may not be discussed in the everyday classroom,” said Mrs. Rigby, group facilitator. One of the main points made by Mrs. Rigby and other leaders of the group is to help students experience diversity and share their stance on related subjects in a school setting, which is not common at Ridley High School. Some students are hesitant to voice their opinions in fear of offending others with their beliefs.
Mrs. Rigby is helping assess this issue one small group of students at a time. To start the morning off, the students gathered in the gymnasium to participate in a series of games that involved teamwork. Most of the students in the group did not know each other, the point of the exercise, and the games allowed students to associate themselves with someone they may not know or maybe would not hang out with. Afterwards, the students gathered back in the boardroom for a trivia game. The trivia questions consisted of demographics for different countries, races, and genders and caused the students to think beyond stereotypes. The trivia game helped the students realize that society creates false pretenses about groups of people.
“I started the leadership tolerance group in my freshman year and have had nothing but a positive experience since starting,” says Jennah McCafferty, a junior. “The group truly helped me mature as a person and view people differently and more honestly overall.”
Many students involved can vouch that the group has influenced their lives and behavior while being there. They mention how the group has helped them become more involved in the lives of others, looking past appearances, and putting differences aside to build new relationships.
“I believe that the leadership tolerance convention helps the students build character, which many of them lack because they refuse to push their prior “knowledge” aside. The group breaks stereotypes and gives the students a chance to speak on how they feel about what’s affecting how they view others,” said Mrs. Wagner, a guidance counselor.
The leadership tolerance group has benefited the lives of students for about eight years, and each year a new group of students has the chance to reach a higher level of understanding the world. Unfortunately, many in our school are not aware of the works of Mrs. Rigby and the group. If awareness was raised, the minds of our future generation would be transformed into something even better.