Each February, parents, alumni, faculty, and staff gather at Buckley for the school’s annual colloquium. Earlier this month, the fourth grade students celebrated their love of reading, the art of discourse, and the connection to community with the first-ever Buckley Kids Kolloquium.
The idea for the Kids Kolloquium was launched last spring when fourth-grader Jasmine Hembrey approached second-grade teacher Mrs. Stefani Rosenthal with a new twist to the Buckley Colloquium for adults—”Why couldn’t the kids have their own Colloquium? Why couldn’t they have a night to discuss a book and have some good food too?” Jasmine asked. Mrs. Rosenthal agreed that it was a wonderful idea and the Kids Kolloquium was born! Jasmine, her family, Mrs. Rosenthal, and Ms. Patricia Russac spent the summer searching for a book that would be important and influential and give the kids an opportunity to have real life discussions. It was unanimous, Front Desk, by Kelly Yang was the choice!
“The Kids Kolloquium was a student idea and it was amazing to see them put their hearts and minds into reading with a careful eye on the text,” said Mrs. Rosenthal. “These students owned it, because they had a voice in the process.”
Front Desk offered several opportunities for students to unpack developmentally appropriate topics connected to diversity, equity, and inclusion. The storyline scaffolds the characters’ journey through their own identity development by navigating through the diversity of culture, language, age, and socioeconomic dynamics while at the same time demonstrating how biases surface throughout in connection with the characters in the book.
“It was truly a special event watching young students engaged in thoughtful discourse on racism, immigration, and prejudice,” said Ms. Russac. “When you give students a voice, they can have those courageous conversations.”
According to Ms. Lynn Sullivan, who is Buckley’s Director of Diversity & Inclusion, the Kids Kolloquium was much more than just a singular event.
“When you think back on the culmination day for the Kids’ Kolloquium you can almost point to it and say, ‘there’s it is—the day that made a difference in the hearts and minds of students by challenging their critical thinking skills and employing empathy, building a foundation for a lifetime,’” she said.
to watch a video feature from the Kids Kolloquium