On February 13, the McCain-Ravenel Center hosted its fourth MRC Monday of the school year, celebrating Black history and community wellness. The day’s presentations and activities centered on three Portrait of a Graduate qualities: collaborating with empathy and respect; seeking balance and bringing joy; and expanding knowledge by making connections and valuing diverse perspectives.
EHS welcomed back author and teacher Shanterra McBride, whose address drew from teachings outlined in her book, “Courageous Discomfort: How to Have Important, Brave, Life-Changing Conversations about Race and Racism,” which she co-authored with her friend Rosalind Wiseman. During her keynote, McBride addressed the importance of celebrating Black History Month, the difference between dignity and respect, and the discomfort when tackling discussions about racism.
McBride compassionately described core differences between respect and dignity: “We expect people to earn a certain treatment when we focus on respect,” she explained. “What I want to teach is that we want fair treatment for everybody regardless of their race, gender, religion, or creed. Even the person that you don't agree with, or the person who does things that you don't think are okay. The belief that everyone has the right to be recognized with dignity for their inherent worth is what's missing in our current environment.”
McBride also defined allyship and its importance. “It means being willing to act with and for others, in pursuit of ending oppression and creating equality,” she said. “There’s discomfort in being an ally, it means uncertainty, but it also means ‘whatever is happening, I’m here and I’m going to experience it.’” Accustomed to addressing adolescents, McBride connected easily with the audience and shared guidance about compassionately supporting one another with kindness and curiosity.
With more than 25 afternoon workshops offered, students were able to spend the remainder of the day engrossed in activities of their choosing.
The Black history workshops introduced students to ideologies and historical events that influenced America. The small seminars discussed several topics including:
how to create inclusive communities while having hard conversations;
the intersection of wellness, Black history, and financial literacy;
chasing success in predominantly white spaces;
and the history of desegregation at EHS.
“My workshop and the keynote forced me to think about how I can stand up for others in a respectful manner when I am not the one directly affected,” Ava Foulk ’23 said. “My biggest takeaway was to remember to take a moment to breathe, and be courageous when addressing injustice.”
With the opening of the deButts Health & Wellness Center approaching, Episcopal’s focus on wellness continues to evolve and expand. In tackling the theme, Emily Straight, community wellness coordinator, said, “One of our goals is to expand students' understanding of what wellness is. We want to encourage them to look at how social, physical, spiritual, environment, and emotional wellbeing intersect and get creative about the many ways they can nourish their lives in those areas.”
Helen Milito ’26 emphasized the importance of understanding wellness: “It's vital to have opportunities devoted to destressing and focusing on our physical and mental wellness, both together as a community and individually. My MRC workshop taught me to not feel guilty or afraid to give myself a break, since we operate best when we are healthy inside and out.”
The wellness workshops provided students with sessions covering a wide range of topics. Areas of focus included:
an introduction to Capoeira;
a trailblazing leadership model for uncovering your authentic self and yoga for self-care;
leadership, mindfulness, and peak performance;
and defining manhood and mental health.
The day compelled students to view Black History Month through a different lens, expand their knowledge about individual and community well-being, and learn the importance of embracing uncomfortable conversations.