HWPA holds panel on diversity

Cole Feldman

About 100 parents and administrators attended a panel on the types of diversity found at Harvard-Westlake March 3 at the Middle School. The event, organized by the Parents Association, was moderated by upper school dean Chris Jones. Interdisciplinary Studies Department Head Larry Klein, Director of Financial Aid Melanie Leon, Head of Athletics Terry Barnum and Jeff Valdez (Alex ’17, Max ’20) all spoke on the panel.

“I did enjoy very much participating and especially hearing the perspectives of the other panelists and the parents that attended,” Klein said. “This sort of open conversation about what we’ve accomplished and the manner in which we can expand our reach is important.”

The panelists spoke for a few hours about diversity in multiple areas, such as financial aid, gender, athletics and religion.

“I think it was one of the better conversations around diversity that I have heard because I felt that everyone in the room was taking the challenges seriously,” President Rick Commons said. “We were talking about the challenges of diversity and inclusion, but doing so in a way that was entirely constructive, optimistic and positive.”

A critical focus for the panel was to show how the school is promoting diversity, while acknowledging that there’s still plenty of room for growth and improvement, Jones said.

“[The panel acted as] an opportunity to have a discussion about something deeply meaningful,” Jones said. “We had talking points we couldn’t get to, so it shows there’s sincere interest among a healthy number in our community.”