Each year, a panel of six PHS students has visited the PMS Diversity Day to discuss social emotional issues with 8th grade students. The practice began in 2008, when Diversity Day organizers Anne Smith and Kim Lipkin asked Acting Teacher Kim Taylor to bring students there to perform “skits” about diversity. Instead of the skits, the three decided that a more effective idea would be bringing high school students who would be willing to share their true stories. While the first few years featured the panel speaking to two classes, the event was so popular that, for the past few years, the entire 8th grade has witnessed the panel presentation.
Through the years, students have discussed issues like depression, being gay, alcoholism, mental and physical challenges, parental sickness, and eating disorders, among others. “We all have a diversity of experience,” Kim Taylor believes, “and there are so many challenges that we all go through that no one discusses. On this panel, older students are able to talk about their issues, including how they’ve felt on their worst days, and then they discuss coping methods that have worked for them. Younger students who are dealing with these issues learn that they are not alone.” The panel has already been invited back for this year’s Diversity Day on May 13.