At RA, we begin each week with an all-school assembly - which takes place virtually this year. It is tradition for every Grade 8 student to take a turn running the assembly and speak about something that is meaningful to them. This tradition continues during remote learning as Head of School Mr. Main turns over the virtual assembly to a Grade 8 student who presents an important message for the community. Each week, their speeches will be posted for our community to read. These outstanding young people are the leaders of our school and have experiences and stories that are important to share. Beibhinn spoke about inclusion, kindness, and celebrating our differences. Enjoy Beibhinn's story.

This year, the 8th grade was asked to center our speeches around the theme of community. Sometimes, community can unfortunately be defined by how we look or how we identify. All too often, we are divided into communities by race, gender, sexuality, or how we see the world. But really we aren't defined by how we look, we are defined by how we act.

To be part of a community, I came up with three characteristics: Number one: you need to be supportive. Look out for each other and help one another. We can all see a great example of being supportive in our individual towns. Next time you're in town, look for all the signs thanking the essential workers that have been so supportive during this pandemic. Those people are showing their support for the workers. Second, to be part of a community you need to be vulnerable. Being vulnerable means showing others how you are feeling about important issues or knowing how to take a stand. Keeping all your feelings bottled inside isn't healthy, and it doesn't help you or anyone around you. Number three: It's important to acknowledge privilege and injustice, even when it makes you uncomfortable. But most importantly, to be part of a community you need to be accepting and open. Open to new ideas, open to changing your opinion, open to learning to be comfortable around others. Next time someone talks about a topic on which you disagree, try and see how THEY could be right, and how YOU could change. You don't have to have the same skin color as other people in your community, or be the same gender. You just need to be there for each other. It doesn't matter if your black, white, hispanic, asian, you can still be part of the same community. What defines you is how you treat others when so many people around you are being hateful. Especially right now, when so many people are feeling lonely, or scared, we need to come together as a community. We need to support others, be comfortable with vulnerability, and be accepting and open. I would like to leave you all with a quote by Audre Lorde, a civil rights activist and writer that I have recently been interested in. She says: "It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences."