Dear Families and Friends of GCE Lab School,
This morning, Technology Director Marcus Duncan shared with me the above photo of the Apple Store at North and Clybourn—just a block north of our school building. It is a striking image. Designed as a building without walls, representing access and innovation, the monolith is now sealed like a vault, protecting luxury and privilege. Following the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, this monument reminds us of deep-seated, systemically-perpetuated inequality, of our nation’s despicable history of violence against black people. Protests across the city and the country in recent days demonstrate shared pain and outrage.
At GCE Lab School, we situate education within current events. We believe that meaningful learning prepares young people to participate as leaders and citizens in diverse community. We are animated by real and formidable challenges that include domestic and global racial dynamics. We dig into complex histories, geographies, economies, psychologies, and more. And we simultaneously stress common humanity and dignity. The world will depend on young problem solvers like those we work with each day. We are consistently proud of our students’ resourcefulness, industry, grace, and wisdom; also their authenticity and vulnerability. Our diversity is our strength: 29% Black/African American, 25% Hispanic, 30% White/Non-Hispanic, 11% Asian/Pacific Islander, and 5% multicultural. All in our community become witness to inequities; too many suffer the trauma of racially-inspired bias.
Yesterday morning, we gathered as a community online to listen to one another. We heard about the various ways our students have encountered and participated in events of recent days, expressions of anger, fear, sympathy, despair, confusion, exhaustion, care, and hope. GCE desires to be a safe space for students as they process this complicated moment, to restore agency when they feel helpless, to advise caution when they might be reckless, to affirm anger when it is righteous, to defend civility when it might be overrun.
We were particularly impressed at the honesty of several students yesterday who shared the extent to which they have been overwhelmed by current events. The staff of our small school, including the School Counselor and every Faculty Advisor, is available to connect with students now and beyond the conclusion of the school year. Sometimes specific issues exceed our expertise, and we are developing a list of resources for students. It is below. If you are aware of other resources, please share them; this is a dynamic list, and we will update it.
The events of the last week are nested in the COVID-19 pandemic, which itself exposed dispiriting inequities. We regret that our connections to one another remain overwhelmingly virtual. Of course, we have encouraged all to remain as safe as possible. Some of our students hear the siren call of massed protesters. They desire to express their own anger, their solidarity with a just cause; alternatively, they wish to witness or document this historic moment. There are of course other ways to participate, to produce words, art, poetry, video with which we might blanket the city. As an institution, we are eager to amplify our students’ voices. And we hope still that they will stay home this week.
As a city, we must do better to recognize and empower those who have been systemically diminished. At GCE, we have been entrusted with the care and encouragement of inspiring young people of all races. Every one of them matters. Our black students matter. And every one of our students will join the chorus of young citizens demanding and enacting a better future.
You are a part of this mission with us. You are an activist too. Thank you for supporting the work of GCE Lab School: for trusting us with your children; for creating experiences and opportunities for our students; for exposing us to ambitions, challenges, industries, and job descriptions; for enabling us to feed and care for one another. You are a benefactor for a more equitable and just future.
In gratitude and optimism,
Cabell King, Head of School
Kiley Bryant, School Counselor
Chicago Area Resources:
- Nami Chicago Helpline: 833-626-4244
- Bright Star Community Outreach
- Free teletherapy services through the Chicago Department of Public Health: 312-747-1020
- Crisis text line (24 hours a day) Text the word HOME to 741741 to access a trained crisis counselor
- TeleHealth Services for Children, Teens and Young Adults – Child Mind Institute
- Mental Health Association of Greater Chicago – Calendar of events (many FREE)
Articles and Books:
Racism and Violence: How to Help Kids Handle The News