'An invitation for further conversation'

Core Values Project looks to build off progress made last year through student-designed anti-racist minicourses.

Patrick Garrity
October 12, 2021
Juliet Ortiz, Niko Matheos and Georgie Venci address the crowd.

Juliet Ortiz (from left), Niko Matheos and Georgie Venci pitch their idea to their fellow students during the Core Values Project launch assembly Tuesday, Oct. 12.

On a pleasant autumn morning in between A and D formats, Exeter took another small step toward becoming an anti-racist school.

The “Core Values Project: Conversations about Anti-oppression, Community Values, and Justice” is the evolution of the work that began in 2020. Last winter, students co-designed and co-taught a dozen month long classes covering a broad range of intersectional topics, from the racialization of scientific thought to racial health care disparities and anti-oppression in athletics.

The Core Values Project — or CVP — picks up on that work and puts into action the Academy’s 2018 vision statement for equity and inclusion. Dean of Students Russell Weatherspoon called the CVP "an invitation for further conversation," with student “facilitators” launching projects for the student body and every faculty member. Those facilitators made their pitches Tuesday morning to a thousand students spread across the Academy Building lawn.

Lucy Meyer-Braun ’23 is co-leading a project they’ve named “Flip the Script,” which intends to build a Harkness class for PEA teachers. “We want to convey what conversations, norms and topics we still think are missing from our classrooms,” she told her fellow students and would-be partners. “If you have any ideas about what is still missing (from our curriculum) and what you want to see improved, please join.”

David Chen '23 and E.J. Barthelemy '23 pitch their Core Values Project idea to schoolmates.

Seniors Georgie Venci, Niko Matheos and Juliet Ortiz, in collaboration with English Instructor Alex Myers and Bonnie-Jeanne Casey, the Director of Religious and Spiritual Life, have started
“Youth from Every Quarter, but Are There Quarters for Every Youth?” “We are looking at the Academy's history of inclusivity with ethnic and religious minorities, and how have they really been supported here at the Academy,” Venci said.

Uppers Priya Nwakanma, Ki Odums and Sanisha Mahendra-Rajah pitched “Supporting Students of Color One-on-One.” “It's a project designed as a how-to guide for faculty about interactions with students of color ranging from mental health, cultural stigmas, reaching out and the effects on academic and athletic performance,” Odums said. “It is open to any and all faculty who want to be a part of it.”

“If you want to learn more, we will be over by the giant tree.”

The projects will be honed throughout fall term and take shape in winter and spring.

Director of Equity and Inclusion Stephanie Bramlett told the assembled community before they dispersed, “These projects may branch off into many different other areas. Don't be afraid to join a group and then think about a branch or think about a new project idea that stems from that a little bit later.”