CRLS’s First Youth Equity Summit Centers Student Voices


Kate Wheatley

The CRLS Youth Equity Summit took place on April 13th.

Margaret Unger, Former Managing Editor

On April 13th, CRLS held its first whole-school Youth Equity Summit. Students attended shortened classes in the morning, and then had the opportunity to take part in small-group workshops on equity issues of their choosing. The goal of the summit was, “All members of our community will engage in experiences focused on how we can be more equitable at CRLS and in Cambridge,” according to a slideshow shared in Falcon Block that day.

Judy Epstein 23, one of the student organizers, told the Register Forum that the Youth Equity Summit was the culmination of two initially separate efforts. One was a group working in response to the multiple instances of anti-Semitic graffiti found at CRLS in the fall, and the other stemmed from the Office of Equity and Inclusion’s previous community Youth Equity Summit. Epstein explained, “The conversations then grew into the idea of having a day full of workshops led by students of varying identities about issues that impact them. Since the two groups were working on similar ideas, we eventually merged and began working together to create the day that finally happened.”

The workshop topics ranged from substances and consent to social media radicalization and environmental justice. Most were student-led, but some involved teachers or community partners, such as the Cambridge Health Alliance. Jennat Jounaidi 24 co-led a workshop on educational inequities in Cambridge called “A Tale of Two Cities.” She told the Register Forum, “Leading this workshop was not only a way for me to share the work I have been doing … but also an opportunity for students to reflect on their own experiences and discuss how they truly feel about the education they are receiving.” Students who did not sign-up for workshops before they reached capacity attended two large-group experiences: Bystander Intervention Training for Youth and Theater Playtime.

For many people, the student-led workshops were the highlight of the event.

For many people, the student-led workshops were the highlight of the event. Dean Josh Marden, one of the summit’s core staff planners, told the Register Forum, “The workshops were such a success because they were: focused on student-identified needs, student-run, and impactful for both students and staff.” Another staff organizer, Ms. Sam Musher, echoed this sentiment, telling the Register Forum,“To me, the most important success is how truly student-led this event was.

Going forward, CRLS intends to hold multiple Youth Equity Summits each year. Organizers hope to build on the success of this year’s event while also acknowledging areas for growth. Mica Ormeno ’24, who co-led a workshop on cancel culture, told the Register Forum, “[The summit] could be improved in the future by encouraging more participation because many people [who] signed up did not show up.” Mr. Marden also noted that some students struggled with engagement during the large group experiences, adding, “I am hopeful that as the Youth Equity Summit becomes a more ingrained part of our culture at CRLS we will be able to have enough workshops for ALL students to attend.” In the meantime, the Youth Equity Summit marks an important step as CRLS continues to grapple with the intersectional equity issues that affect the Cambridge community.

This piece also appears in our May/June 2023 print edition.