Oakland Catholic is committed to ensuring that its mission, values, and ideals are grounded in real action so that any member of our community knows deeply and fully that Black Lives Matter, that we are all God's children and worthy of respect, and that creating an anti-racism community is in direct line with our beliefs as a Catholic school and Christian community.
A little over a week ago, we sent a letter addressing the anguish across our nation, with an understanding that Oakland Catholic wants to do more. We recognize that dismantling racism in our society demands much more than words. We have spent the last week hearing the voices of our alumnae and students. We have spoken directly with multiple alumnae, engaged in a great conversation with the leadership of our current Black Student Union, and sought direct consultation with individual alumnae, partners, directors, and parents. We are ready to move forward with purposeful action.
To that end, we want to share with you what has been happening at Oakland Catholic, additional programs that are being implemented, and actions that will be taken to back up the sentiment expressed in our last letter. Details of these plans and additional programs will be updated on our website.
- Our students are our priority – their wellbeing, health, safety, and education. They are the future generations of OC Women and we do not want them to ever experience racial injustice here at home. In a meeting with the leadership of our Black Student Union (BSU), we engaged in a very productive and positive conversation filled with insight and concrete decisions on how to better recognize, support, and advocate for the BSU, our African American students, and all students of color. Specific decisions were made together, and students and administration will explore and institute other initiatives so that BSU becomes an integral piece of OC student life and leadership.
- In our strategic plan, diversity training for faculty and staff is a key objective and has been implemented over recent years. We are working with a diversity and inclusion advisor to initiate a Dignity & Respect program that includes sensitivity training, education, and ongoing review and instruction. All faculty, staff, and students will participate in this program. The Dignity & Respect program will span the entire school year and continue each subsequent year, ensuring that the objective of being an authentically anti-racism community remains at the forefront of our community.
- Leadership will continue to build partnerships with Black and African American community and business leaders who can offer assistance, guidance, and insight into best practices; concrete activities and engagements with students, faculty, staff, and the board; and implementation of these activities and events.
- An advisory council of committed alumnae, parents, and other experts and supporters will be formed to engage with the leadership and Board of Directors of Oakland Catholic to address racial injustice. Once formed, this council will have opportunities to address the school community, sharing their experiences and insight with current students and alumnae.
- As part of an ongoing effort to bring about real change and authentic diversity, the board will more actively pursue Black, African American, and other persons of color as candidates for directorships. Job posting protocols will continue to be revamped as stated in the current strategic plan so that more people of color are attracted to positions available at Oakland Catholic High School and join our community. Alumnae, prominent African-American women, and other women of color will continue to be invited to speak with students and faculty at major and minor school events.
- The Student/Parent Handbook will continue to be reviewed and revised annually with special attention to ensure that discipline for acts of racial injustice are appropriate and coupled with education and/or sensitivity training.
- Creating a more inclusive curriculum has been an ongoing goal of Oakland Catholic for the last ten years. Additional examination and exploration of anti-racist literature and resources will continue, in an ongoing effort to incorporate a more diverse array of authors and works to complement the changes already made to current World Literature and World History courses.
- The recently established Safe-to-Say program in PA for anonymous reports of any type of misconduct experienced, witnessed, or suspected by students or adults will continue to be reviewed regularly with students, faculty, and staff. Oakland Catholic will clearly outline in the handbook how individuals within our school community can report incidents of racism or racial injustice without fear of repercussion.
- A hub on our website that highlights all programs and initiatives directed at combatting racism will be created for all members of the community to reference so that we remain aware of and add to these actions regularly.
This is just the beginning. We are grateful to all the dedicated students, alumnae, and members of the OC community who have reached out to us this past week to share their views and experiences. Your voices are an essential part of our path forward. We are committed to fulfilling our Catholic mission and tradition in rejecting racism in all its forms. Anti-racism will be a focal point of all we do at Oakland Catholic through training, uncomfortable conversations about race, and targeted programs. It is our sincere hope that you join us in productive conversations and positive action as we move forward.
Mary Claire Kasunic, President
Marisa Greco, Principal
Nicole Powell, Assistant Principal