On Tuesday, November 20, Lakefield College School hosted its second annual Women's Empowerment Conference and this year's theme was From Invisibility to Empowerment—See Me. Hear Me. Empower Me. Student delegates from both public high schools and independent schools from Whitby to North Hastings attended the conference.
The goal was to raise girls' appreciation of the historic and present reality of “invisibility” of their gender (with cross-over to other categories of diversity such as race, etc). We wanted the group to consider how this might be happening in their respective schools (portraits on the wall, school and student committees, etc), and mount table activities to start building an action plan as a ‘take-away’ to bring change back in their schools.
The schools were welcomed by music provided by a group of LCS students under the leadership of Ms. Young and Mr. Kwan.
After welcome messages from the Minister of Status of Women, Peterborough's own Maryam Monsef, via video, and then LCS Co-Head Students Emilia Voudouris and Max Brandes, and Head of School and Foundation, Anne-Marie Kee—the morning began with a an excerpt from the play False Assumptions written by Lawrence Aronovitch, who was also in attendance and gave the context of the play in order to begin conversations around this year's topic. What followed was an active and engaging workshop where students were involved and contributing in mixed groups for the first part and then regrouped as a school for the second portion. They were introduced to exercises to expose where and how “invisibility” happens in their schools, communities and globally. Following the "Crow exercise and Passion to Action staircase" the delegates and the staff member from their school that accompanied them then created and presented “action plans” to take back to their schools to help them to recognize and empower girls more completely. Following a closing speech by Vicky Boomgaardt, Assistant Head of Co-Curriculars, everyone enjoyed lunch before departing back to their respective schools.
The morning was facilitated by Dr. Betsy McGregor and numerous staff and LCS students were also engaged in the discussions with the other schools. It was an inspired morning for everyone in attendance and Peter O'Grady, Director of Leadership and his team is already looking forward to planning next year's conference!