Earlier this month, the Ethical Culture Fieldston School’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Department hosted a year-end celebration for the members of Bridge to Bridge. Inspired by their experiences at the NAIS Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC), ECFS alums Brittany Thompson ’09 and Joel Fernandez ’09, along with a faculty advisor, formed Bridge to Bridge while they were Fieldston Upper students during the 2006–2007 academic year. Bridge to Bridge is a program for students of color at Fieldston Middle and Fieldston Upper that aims to foster healthy relationships and deepen students’ sense of belonging to the ECFS community.
Bridge to Bridge has grown significantly since its founding and has become a safe space where students of color can share their common experiences and engage in meaningful mentorship that will hopefully set up every graduate with the vital skills of building community and connection. Over the last five years, Bridge to Bridge has hosted panels with the College Office, engaged in leadership training and discussions on topics such as assimilation, colorism, and stereotype threat, held movie screenings to center intersectional conversations, and enjoyed visits from some of our time’s most prominent leaders and thinkers, such as Dr. Beverly Tatum, Dr. Elizabeth Alexander, and Cathy Park Hong.
At the recent celebration dinner, 7th, 8th, and 11th Grade students shared their experiences as members of Bridge to Bridge and thanked the seniors for their dedication and mentorship. Similarly, the senior speakers, Dream CA ’23 and Kiara MD ’23, thanked their peers, teachers, families, and the students that had come before them and also reflected on their personal growth despite difficult moments over the past several years. All of the students shared a similar sentiment: Bridge to Bridge has been a safe space that has cultivated many deep relationships, fostered camaraderie across grades, and affirmed personal and collective identities.
After the speeches, the students participated in a passing of the torch ceremony — or rather, a “passing of the plant” ceremony. The graduating 12th Graders passed a potted plant on to the 11th Graders as a symbol that they would continue to cultivate community and support each other and the next generation of Bridge to Bridge students. Lastly, faculty advisor Janet Pugh honored the seniors with a ceremonial sash and a hug, wishing them bright futures and a reminder that they are always welcome to return to Fieldston for a visit.
DEI team members Angie Pillier, Mercedes Robinson, Noah Arhm Choi, and faculty advisor Janet Pugh played an important role in supporting the Bridge to Bridge students this year and wanted to share a few special messages with the Class of 2023:
Mercedes Robinson: This year was my first year at ECFS, and having the opportunity to plan Bridge to Bridge has been one of the highlights of my year. The kids are amazing, and I am thankful to share a joyful space with them. To the seniors, you did it! Keep doing your thing. You all inspire me!
Angie Pillier: It was an honor to organize events for Bridge to Bridge this year. The students are outstanding, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for them. To our seniors, congratulations! We look forward to hosting you at future events!
Noah Arhm Choi: Congratulations to all of the graduating seniors! Thank you for your mentorship and dedication to creating a strong community. We are so excited to see all the incredible things you do!
Janet Pugh: I am super proud of all of you! As you move into your next chapter, be bold and continue to celebrate your greatness, creativity, and strengths. I will always be on the sidelines cheering for y’all! I salute and honor each and every one of you!
Special thanks to the DEI Department, the Facilities, Technology, AVI, and Design Center teams, and Pamela Papino-Wood, whose hard work and dedication made this event possible!