Seven Hills Upper School Devotes Day to Unpack Defamation
Seven Hills Upper School students, their teachers, and administrators recently came together for a daylong intensive called The Defamation Experience.
Upper School principal Matt Bolton recessed Seven Hills’ usual daily schedule in early October to place emphasis on the importance of understanding the struggles others may face in discriminatory situations.
The day included a thoughtful mix of small-group advisory discussions and an interactive play that fostered honest conversations among students, faculty, and administration. The event was initiated by Head of School Chris Garten and carried out by Bolton, as well as English teachers Nate Gleiner and Marielle Newton.
“The Defamation Experience was an engaging and important experience for our Upper School students, one that called on them to grapple with some of the complexities of race, class, and gender in American life,” said Bolton. “After the interactive play performed by professional actors, also entitled, ‘The Defamation Experience,’ the actors told me that our students were more engaged and thoughtful than most of the college audiences they perform for. It is a great testament to all of the work of our teachers and student community.”
“The Defamation Experience” has been performed at hundreds of high schools and colleges over the past decade. Bolton called the actors’ performance, “riveting.” “Teachers and students alike were drawn into the courtroom drama and into the challenging, heart-wrenching issues it raised. They then broke the fourth wall, calling on the students themselves to serve as the jury and to render a verdict,” said Bolton. “The students’ comments, questions, and observations during this portion of the performance were exceptional.”
Bolton added that the Seven Hills Upper School community also delved into these discussions, in smaller groups and advisories following the play.
Said Bolton, “The Defamation Experience was a powerful way of reflecting on the world around us and on how each of us can find ways to bridge divides in our country and in our world.”