Written by Evalyn Li
Published in the September 11, 2015 issue
The annual Not in Our Schools (NIOS) Week will take place from Monday, Sept. 28 to Friday, Oct. 2, unlike previous years where it occurred in the spring semester.
NIOS co-coordinator Todd Summers said that this new arrangement will be successful in terms of establishing
the message of acceptance and empathy earlier in the year. “Everyone is going to get their shirts earlier and have it for the rest of the school year,” Summers said. “It just seems like a good way to set the tone of the school year for the community.”
Senior diversity commissioner Ridhaa Sachidanandan agrees that the earlier date allows for the efforts of NIOS acceptance to grow and expand throughout the rest of the school year. “We plan on doing other smaller events that are based off of NIOS Week,” Sachidanandan said. “We hope to do that throughout the school year just to keep the ball rolling.”
The new arrangement also addresses the busy schedules of both students and staff in the spring. Director of Student Activities Lisa Hall explained that given the circumstances in April, the month in which NIOS has been held in the past, students would have an insufficient time to make the most out of the experience. “People were feeling that we have a little more flexibility in the fall to do a large week-long event and that the students and the faculty would be more focused on the activities rather than just going through the motions at the end of the school year,” Hall said.
Both Summers and Hall said that empathy will be emphasized at this year’s NIOS. “I think that our continued work on identity safety and appreciating our differences are both very important,” Hall said. “I like that there’s been a move towards increased empathy for others, which is part of that understanding and appreciation of our differences.”
Summers also said that NIOS provides an opportunity to rethink what it means to be unified as a school. “We’re All In This Together: everyone is here at Gunn and we all need to be kind to one another and help each other out,” Summers said. “It is not just the students; it is our entire community of students and adults at Gunn and in Palo Alto.”
For Sachidanandan, NIOS Week is a time for everyone to come together and reflect. “We want to make Gunn feel less like a school that you have to go to and more like a home in which you are not only supported but you are [also] loved by everyone in it,” Sachidanandan said.