Exploring Mental Health at Diversity Forum 2022

On April 20, the NCS community hosted its annual Diversity Forum, the culmination of year-long conversations in assemblies and homerooms around the theme of mental health. Each year, students vote on a Diversity Forum theme that the school explores in depth. Previous themes have included ability, the American dream, media matters, and allyship.

The day began with students, faculty, and staff gathered in the Cathedral for a welcome assembly, led by the Upper School student government's Equity Board. Nicki Anyanwu '22, Equity Board president, set the tone for the conference by sharing reflections about the theme. The event featured a performance by Okorie Johnson, a cellist and composer who incorporates jazz, classical music, electronic dance music, reggae, and funk into his original works. Additionally, the renowned slam poet Gayle Danley performed two captivating pieces.

Following the ceremony, each of NCS’s three divisions held workshops and activities. In workshops led by classmates, guest speakers, and teachers, Upper School students learned about barriers to mental healthcare, stigma and discrimination, the psychology of addiction, LGBTQ+ youth mental health, athlete mental health, social anxiety, and more.

Upper Schoolers also learned about Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama and heard from founder and CEO of D.C.-based startup Hurdle Kevin Dedner, clinical psychologist Dr. Linda Fleming, writer and filmmaker Cheyenne Tyler Jacobs, and more. In reflection rooms, students engaged in dance, yoga, meditation, gardening, knitting, and origami. Seniors Madeline King and Molly Deegan presented their student wellness-related research from the Lauren Sarah Hester and Vernot-Jonas Family Fellowships, respectively.

Middle Schoolers participated in sessions on women and mental health in literature; mental health in film; and music, stress, and the brain with Johnson. Lower Schoolers met author, counselor, and healer Omileye Achikeobi-Lewis, whose book My Heart Flies Open endeavors to represent joyful and peaceful Black children and provide affirming, mindful yoga opportunities for all children. They also participated in a slam poetry competition with Danley as well as a session with the cellist.

Diversity Forum was organized by the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, the Faculty and Staff Diversity Committee, the counseling department, and the student Equity Board.

To view more photos from this year’s Diversity Forum, visit the Media Gallery.
    • Middle Schoolers practice yoga, led by an instructor via Zoom.

    • Students compete in a slam poetry competition with guidance from poet Gayle Danley.

    • Cellist and composer Okorie Johnson performs at the welcome assembly in the Cathedral.

    • The DEI Office, student Equity Board, Okorie Johnson, and Gayle Danley pose for a photo in the Cathedral.