Connections: Making the World a More Inclusive Place

Katelynn Graham and Samantha Grant

‘Connections’ is a group of staff and students grades 10-12 at Sutton High School that creates a safe space for students and makes the school a better place. They work on issues relating to sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, prejudice, bias, and more. 

Incidents in the past with these topics have affected our students, “A number of years ago we kept on having incidents that were around those topics; we would have students who would say the ‘n’ word or we would have students who would call girls inappropriate names or use homophobic slurs…” said Principal Ted McCarthy, a leader of Connections. Staff would deal with the one incident, but it became such an issue that more needed to be done. It was decided to take a more proactive approach and create Connections. 

The goal of Connections is to help students better understand their world and how they can help out in our community. Our staff wants students to know that these topics can be challenging and you don’t have to have an answer to every question. That’s okay; teachers and students are here to learn and grow together. 

The Connections team stays connected with other schools and holds conferences where other schools attend. They have yearly conferences around March and they have speakers that address these kinds of issues. After the guest speaker concludes, staff and students break up into groups and attend workshops meant to provide additional information about these social issues. 

We interviewed Gillian McDonald, a member of the Connections program, on what it’s like to be in Connections. “I think I like Connections because we all can come together as a group and hear each other’s opinions. You can disagree and, you know, nobody’s mad at you so I really appreciate that acceptance and understanding.” Accepting and understanding are both important parts of Connections. It helps to bring out more opinions and honesty from students who might be afraid to let others know what they think. It’s nice to know that there is a community in the school that can be a safe place for everyone.

We asked her if other students should join Connections to get in on the action. “I think everybody should at least try it a couple of times and if you don’t really enjoy it then you still take things from it. You still can take a learning experience from it.”

Want to join Connections? Students in Connections get trained by the “Anti-Defamation League” and in the second half of the school year they talk to groups of ninth graders and go through a series of workshops to see if Connections would be something they would want to do and if so then they can start being apart of Connections in their sophomore year! 

Check out the Connections website: