Dear Commonwealth community:
We are pleased to share with you the Commonwealth School Statement on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. It was written by trustees to articulate today’s reasons for Commonwealth’s commitment to creating and maintaining a truly diverse, equitable, and inclusive school environment. These values have been a part of the school and its mission since its founding, but the trustees recognized the need for a statement that went beyond an appeal to our legacy. This is a living document, designed to give every member of the Commonwealth community—student, parent, alum, teacher, staff member, and trustee—a set of commitments they can refer to as we continue this work together.
The drafters took care to craft a statement clearly rooted in Commonwealth’s mission. We believe it will help us all make Commonwealth a better version of itself—and will help the school live up to the standards we have shared since its founding: an institution committed to educating young people from diverse backgrounds to become knowledgeable, thoughtful, and creative adults, capable of careful analysis, fruitful cooperation, responsible leadership, and deep commitment.
Like the school’s mission, this statement is intentionally broad. It is not—and should not be—a comprehensive plan for implementing DEI programs. It is a North Star, not a road map.
Drafted by the board with input from InCommon (our board-appointed DEI task force) and the three of us cosigned below, it is the product of six months of deliberations and informed by a year of dialogue and action.
We remain deeply grateful for the alumni/ae and current students—Mosammat Faria Afreen ’16, Iman Ali ’18, Gueinah Carlie Blaise ’16, Tristan Edwards ’18, Kimberly Hoang ’21, Alexis Domonique Mitchell ’16, Ryan Phan ’22, Alan Plotz ’21, and Tarang Saluja ’18—who sparked these efforts with their petition and activism a year ago.
We know the need is urgent, and there remains much to be done. This is not a journey with any final destination, but an ongoing effort that will respond to the changing needs and times. In the years ahead, this statement will guide not just our administration but all of our collective work.
You can view the statement below and on the Equity and Inclusion page of our website. We welcome any comments or questions you may have: your responses will help shape the course ahead. For all of the time and thought that went into this piece, it is only a beginning. Progress will come from efforts large and small over time, from all of us.
Therese Hendricks P'05 '07, Board of Trustees Chair
Jennifer Borman ’81, Incoming Head of School
Bill Wharton, Headmaster
Commonwealth School’s Statement on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Commonwealth School’s founder, Charles Merrill, dreamed of a diverse collective of inquisitive students learning how to become responsible, socially conscious adults. His vision gives special meaning to the school’s mission statement.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are essential to achieving the mission. The lives of students, faculty, and staff are shaped by each individual’s life experiences that include but are not limited to race, religion, sexual orientation, age, ethnicity, family structure, nationality, gender identity, ability, and socioeconomic background.
Diversity of perspectives, beliefs, and experiences enhances intellectual discourse and the educational experience at Commonwealth. Diversity enables students to learn from one another and from faculty in rigorous and respectful debate and to develop empathy for those of differing views and experiences. It prepares them to thrive in the increasingly diverse society in which they live and will contribute to as adults.
For these reasons, achieving diversity will enable Commonwealth to better live up to its commitment to high academic standards. Commonwealth can and will be a welcoming home for curious and imaginative students irrespective of their backgrounds, interests, identities, or financial capacities. Achieving and maintaining diversity requires a welcoming culture of inclusivity where individuals feel that they can be their true selves, that they are heard, that their differences are valued, and that they belong. Inclusiveness strengthens the school’s unique, proud, and spirited culture.
Being inclusive must be supported with equitable policies and procedures. A hallmark of the Commonwealth education is academic excellence, which must be accompanied by support
mechanisms that address the entirety of the individual, their needs, and differences. When the school fails to include and support all of its members, we must ask how we can do better.
Each of us must engage affirmatively with the work of equity and inclusion. It cannot be delegated to the director of diversity or to the head of school. They have institutional responsibilities regarding DEI that must be fulfilled, but real progress can only be achieved through the action of all: students, faculty, staff, alumni/ae, and the Board.