TA Student Speaks Up for Equity in Schools
January 25, 2023
Photo: DEI coordinator Tony Strat-Cortez and Sora Bolles ’26
Last week, Thetford Academy student Sora Bolles ’26 presented invited testimony to the Vermont State Board of Education on behalf of the Vermont Student Anti-Racism Network (VSARN). VSARN is a project of Vermont Learning for the Future and is made up of student activists from all over the State.
“We are students from all over Vermont joining together for racial equity and justice in all VT schools. With our voices, we can and will make a difference. We hope to undertake projects to actively make changes in our schools from kindergarten to twelfth grade, educate ourselves and our communities about anti-racism, promote honest dialogue and ensure the voices of students and educators of color are heard.”
Bolles’s testimony to the Board’s Education Quality Standards (EQS) Rule Update Committee added real student voices to the lawmakers considering changes to education quality standards in Vermont.
One VSARN student wrote, “There were multiple racist incidents at soccer games throughout the state. This wouldn’t have been as likely to happen if students were taught about racism and learned about microaggressions.” Another shared, “In my school I have witnessed and experienced instances of people using insensitive language and expressing hostile or misunderstanding attitudes towards students of color. This creates an environment where students of color including myself may feel unwelcome and isolated from their peers.”
By sharing their experiences, VSARN hoped to validate the Committee’s proposed update to EQS rules that would ensure that all students in Vermont public schools and approved independent schools are afforded educational opportunities that are not only substantially equal in quality, but “equitable, anti-racist, culturally responsive, anti-discriminatory, and inclusive.”
At TA, Bolles is a member of the school’s Student Alliance for Racial Justice (SARJ) led by Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion coordinator Tony Strat-Cortez. Her activism is personal, but also a way to make the community better for everyone.
“Racism affects my life and my family. It also affects people I care about and those around me. I am Asian and I have friends who are people of color. It affects them in similar ways. It does affect everyone, whether you are a person of color or not, because how we relate to people and connect with others impacts our overall social environment. A social environment where anyone’s differences makes them feel scared or isolated is unhealthy for everyone in that environment whether they relate or not.”