Day of Dialogue preparation proves rewarding

Graham Krewinghaus, Staff Writer

To some students, the Day of Dialogue means a break from classes and a couple hours of sitting in the auditorium. To others, it is a meaningful day of watching their peers, friends and teachers share their stories and talk about their identities. To those who organize and facilitate it, it can mean so much more than that.

Creating the Day of Dialogue is a long, fulfilling process. Beginning in January, students collaborate in small groups divided by the assemblies they work on.

Organizing the Day of Dialogue takes work spanning several months and is an opportunity for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ+) students and allies to express themselves, make friends and grow as students and people.

In early January, members of the Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA) and other interested students met to gather ideas for assembly topics. Sophomore Murielle Costentin said that the brainstorm session was her favorite part because it allowed everyone to suggest anything that came to mind.

“In the beginning you just throw out ideas of what you want, what people you want speaking, all your wildest ideas, even if you don’t know if we’ll have the means or the budget to do everything you want to do,” Costentin said. “It’s just really fun to have everyone in the group jot down their wildest dreams because then we get to try and make as many of those dreams as we can come true.”

Junior Haley Bos said that two weeks after coming up with assembly topics, groups start to focus on one part of the day.

“We separate into groups of who wants to run which assemblies, and in those assemblies, you start developing what you want to do,” Bos said. “So, for example, for the intersectionality assembly, we had a speaker last year who spoke that I adored, so I emailed her and asked her to come back this year to run her own assembly.”

Preparation within assembly groups is when students create most of what ends up in the day, according to Costentin.

“For a month and a half, we have weekly meetings in separate groups because it’s the part of the process where everything gets written and everything gets done,” Costentin said. “There’s nothing we can do as a larger group if we don’t have anything prepared in our assembly group.”

Once each group has the basis of their assembly, GSA adviser, social studies teacher and facilitator of the Day of Dialogue Kate Leslie checks in on them and begins the revision portion.

“After a while, maybe two or three weeks before the Day of Dialogue, Ms. Leslie starts checking in on people, asking the places or the setting of what the panels are going to be at,” Costentin said. “And then usually the week before the Day of Dialogue, that’s when the groups start rehearsing.”

Leslie said that being a part of the day can be a very powerful experience for LGBTQ+ students.

“One of the exciting pieces is that a lot of the students who get involved in the Day of Dialogue planning have never done outright activism or assembly planning,” Leslie said. “They learn how to do this, they struggle through it, they make mistakes, they have to put a ton of work into it, but in the end they see a very much tangible result. To actually see an assembly come together, to be on a big stage and know that you made that assembly happen, is a really exciting thing for a lot of students.”

Another important part of the process is rehearsal of the Telling Our Stories speeches. Sophomore James Kindall said that he was given lots of advice during his practice time.

“If you’re over time, you have to cut it down. If you’re under time, you can work on slowing down a little bit. {We got} tips on delivery, enunciation, and so on,” Kindall said.

Senior Rebecca Perez said her speech went well in part because of the support she felt from the audience.

“I had a lot of people in the audience supporting me, and I knew a lot of my friends were watching,” Perez said. “It actually felt nice to know there were people in the audience rooting for me. It was a big audience, which was a little intimidating at first, but you quickly get into the headspace of getting used to that.”

Leslie said that it takes a lot of courage to share your story in front of the school and that the speeches mean a lot to the students.

“It’s an incredibly brave, courageous act,” Leslie said. “It can be really monumental for a lot of students, and really a moment that students can look back on and feel really, really proud of.”

Sophomore Sol Heo said that the organization process allowed them to go outside their social comfort zone and make some more friends.

“I liked the interactions between the people who worked on it and just the overall experience of communication,” Heo said. “It’s a really nice experience and while I’m not usually that social, I got to know a lot of people.”

Heo said the day is necessary because it starts an important conversation about LGBTQ+ issues.

“BHS is really open, but we don’t talk about too many things that really shouldn’t be swept under the rug,” Heo said. “Having the Day of Dialogue actually opens up an opportunity to talk about these things in a safer space, so I think it’s important that way.”

Junior Mary Ossar, an organizer of several assemblies, said that despite the fact the day takes a lot of work, the end result makes it worth it.

“I would like people to know that even though it is some outside work, it’s really rewarding because you get to see your final product and watch other people watch it and learn from it,” Ossar said. “It’s really nice to see other people appreciating your work, and it’s cool to have a say in how this whole thing is run.”

Contributed reporting by Oliver Fox