The Joseph Sears School DEB Newsletter
Volume 12
January 2022
We Celebrate: Martin Luther King Day
“If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl. But whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.
Once upon a time, there was a man named Martin Luther King, Jr. He taught us that things won't always be awesome, but your response can be. Remember, things don't always have to be the way they are. We can change them! Kids can change them. This Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, celebrate the promise of change with Kid President.
We Condemn Anti-Semitism: A Word from our Students on Holocaust Remembrance Day
My great-grandparents were Holocaust survivors. If not for their unbelievable strength and resilience, I would not be here.  
I’ll share a story about my great-grandmother, who was a tiny but strong-willed person with a great sense of humor and tremendous confidence. When the Nazis invaded and Jews were forced to wear yellow stars, she made herself a beautiful dress covered in huge yellow stars and wore it with pride, walking up and down the main street of her town with her head held high. Ironically, she created a sensation and even strangers approached her to admire her outfit. What was supposed to be a badge of shame, she wore as a badge of honor. She refused to let the Nazis make her feel inferior or take away her dignity.
She was soon deported to Auschwitz and then to Buchenwald, where her inventive skills and quick wit saved her life until she was liberated by American soldiers in 1945.  
Her story is about surviving unthinkable horror and being resilient in the face of adversity. Not everyone’s story ended this way. Six million Jews and countless others did not survive. The lessons she shared with us are of living with purpose, staying true to ourselves, being proud of our identity, and thinking for ourselves – and certainly not accepting anything or anyone at face value. Life is a gift that should not be wasted.

--Rafi Naftali, 8th grade
As a Jewish student, I’m so thankful for the life I live in 2022, where all religions and beliefs are accepted. And although there is still much progress to be made, I see this day as an opportunity to reflect on everybody who has supported me and what I can do to make others feel the same way. Take a moment on January 27 or any day to think about how you can make everybody feel a little more loved and welcomed in our Sears community. One idea of something you can do is to educate yourself! There’s a great Holocaust Museum in Skokie if you’d like to learn more. 

--Mara Saltzman, 8th Grade
Gong Xi Fa Cai: Happy Chinese New Year on February 1st to All of our Families who Celebrate!
Get Involved with DEB at Sears!
Meet up with other Sears parents for safe, informal and supportive monthly discussions about parenting and diversity. No topic is off-limits, but we request that conversations are kept in confidence among those who attend. Our next meetup will take place on February 5th from 10 to 11 am at Hometown Coffee & Juice (749 Elm Street in Winnetka). RSVP to Meredith Sullivan.
Join the new Sears Parent Education Committee that will sponsor programming on parenting elementary and junior high school-aged children. The committee will include representatives from the school administration, faculty, social services, board members and parents. If you would like to get involved, or suggest topics, contact Joe Guarino or Kate Donegan

Encourage your Junior High Student to take the Polar Bear Plunge after school on February 23 to Raise Money for the Special Olympics. 
Support LGBTQ+ youth experiencing homelessness due to their sexual or gender identity. The DEB Student Committee will be supporting Tucson, Arizona-based nonprofit Our Family Services by collecting donations of gently used items such as computers, blankets, and other necessities. Be sure to keep an eye out for details on how you can contribute!
Who We Are
The DEB Committee was created in 2019 to encourage richer dialogues and augmented programming around diversity, equity, and belonging in our school community. The committee is made up of parents, faculty, administration, socio-emotional learning team leads, and a school board member representative. This unique collaboration amongst school and community stakeholders allows for diverse perspectives on the committee and in the schoolhouse.
The Joseph Sears School DEB Committee
Kate Donegan, Superintendent,
Stephanie Helfand, Principal,
Mia Sachs, School Board Liaison,
Rebecca Quigley, Parent Lead/HEROS
Shawn Bard, JSSPVA

Faculty/Staff Committee Members
Nancy Economou, Social Worker
Hilary Harvey, Social-Emotional Learning Facilitator
Bill Gordon, Vocal Music Teacher
Gabriella Noyes, Social Worker 

Parent Committee Members:
Kathy Ambrosino, Marjorie Bransfield, Tanya Brown, Sarah Czepiel, Analia Elizalde,
Adrienne Eynon, Steve Fifita, Brittany Gottschall, Katalina Groh, Joe Guarino, Anjali Kase,
Varsha Kaura, Omar Khalaf, Radhika Maheshwari, Anaga Maira,
Sumita Mehta, Vanessa Menton, Steve Mugg, Amisha Muthialu, Joanna Naftali, 
Kyra Nelson, Erin Paul, Kristin Pilant, Janet Scholl, Meredith Sullivan
Interested in joining the DEB Committee? Please fill out the following form and a committee chairperson will reach out with more information.
The Joseph Sears School Diversity, Equity, Belonging Committee
542 Abbotsford Road, Kenilworth, IL, 60043
School Office: 847-256-5006