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Redefine diversity: school climate fosters inclusivity

Although SPA's reported diversity numbers are nearly opposite that of SPPS, the knowledge about those cultures is so much stronger here.

Infographic: Lucy Sandeen

Although SPA's reported diversity numbers are nearly opposite that of SPPS, the knowledge about those cultures is so much stronger here.

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Diversity is one of the things that St. Paul Academy and Summit School is continually trying to improve. Whether it’s cultural or economic, the SPA community seems almost desperately to want to diversify. While there’s always room for improvement, in my opinion, SPA is doing pretty well in the diversity awareness department.

Look deep to appreciate how SPA is doing, diversity-wise. Looking solely at the numbers – according to the website a paltry 23% of SPA’s Upper School population are students of color —  and SPA’s reputation as a heavily white environment, you’re getting a skewed picture, because numbers never tell the full story. To get an accurate picture, you need to compare and contrast.

As an example, look at the Saint Paul Public Schools system. According to the district’s website, 78% of the students in the district are students of color, more than three times the amount at SPA. It’s easy to applaud the diversity, but in my experience, what people don’t seem to realize is that when there are so many students belonging to separate cultures, they often segregate themselves or are segregated. In public schools I’ve attended, it isn’t people of all different backgrounds coming together and talking to each other about their cultures. Large public schools are essentially like three or four different schools divided up by race. It’s united only in the sense that all of the students are in the same building and share the same teachers.

While there are not huge numbers of non-white or non-wealthy students at SPA, the small numbers actually create a more diverse environment. ”

— Kat St. Martin-Norburg

While there are not huge numbers of non-white or non-wealthy students at SPA, the small numbers actually create a more diverse environment. Walk into the lunchroom at any given time, and there’s almost a guarantee that people from different cultures and backgrounds will be sitting next to each other. In the classrooms, students do not segregate themselves by race. Unlike many public schools, several clubs at SPA focus on appreciating a variety of cultures, and students who belong to them truly appreciate multiple cultures. Students of all different backgrounds actually get to know each other, and our differences are not just tolerated but genuinely appreciated – and people are treated as more than just their race.

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Redefine diversity: school climate fosters inclusivity