Discussion groups reflect over Flex Time Speaker


Students discuss Wes Moore’s speech in breakout rooms divided by their dean group during Community Flex Time. Credit: Lucas Cohen-D’arbleoff

Lucas Cohen-D'arbleoff and Melody Tang

Students and faculty discussed guest speaker Wes Moore, an author and social entrepreneur, during Community Flex Time on Sept. 29 . In breakout rooms organized by dean group, participants explored topics such as personal growth, adversity and influencing change.

Moore spoke to students during the last Community Flex Time about his personal experiences with his family , relating them to current-day issues such as racial inequality.

Each discussion group consisted of about 20 total students, including a student and a teacher moderator. Student moderators led discussions with a list of given questions connecting Moore’s speech to their own perspectives.

Moderator asks question about student expectations

Student moderator Shoshie Bernstein ’22 began her discussion with a question regarding accountability and external forces on personal success. Bernstein asked students if they believed Moore’s statement that people often live up to the expectations placed upon them, and how they may impact one’s mindset .

Elliot Lichtman ’23, a member of Bernstein’s group, said that when others impose presumptions on friends or family, it often may be to their detriment.

“Expectations don’t necessarily translate to results,” Lichtman said . “If you expect something unreasonable of yourself or someone else, that’s obviously not great and doesn’t lead to purpose or focus on a goal.”

Community Council member speaks about organizing the event

Community Council member Carolina Rodriguez ’21 said the Community Flex Time Committee planned the discussion sessions for the first time this year to allow more students to express their ideas on the topics.

“One of the reasons the committee decided to add the discussion session with Wes Moore was because our school had never done smaller group discussions after a speaker,” Rodriguez said. “Every time the school has a speaker, we hear the speaker than allot time for a few questions and never seem to follow up. The point of these smaller group discussions was to allow the school reflect on Wes Moore’s impactful words and be able to listen to their peers.”

Student Moderator describes her experience facilitating discussions

Student moderator CC Mesa ’22 said she enjoyed having the chance to moderate such an important and necessary discussion.

“Being a moderator was really interesting because we had a set of questions to use but got a lot of freedom in choosing which specific questions and how we wanted to organize and conduct the conversation,” Mesa said.

Student answers discussion question about making change

The final discussion question asked students about what they are fighting for and how they have the ability to make a difference in their community. While responses varied, Lily Bailey ’21 said she felt students at our school have many educational opportunities that should not be taken for granted.

“As students at Harvard-Westlake, we have been given a massive opportunity to receive a top tier education and surround ourselves with excellent teachers, faculty and peers,” Bailey said. “I think we really need to use that to our advantage and realize that we’ve been given the privilege and gift that barely any other students are fortunate enough to receive. We should be up to date on issues and we should know what it means to stand up.”