Capitol riot inspires University High School seminars to help students process incident

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Following the Jan. 6 pro-Trump riot at the U.S. Capitol, University High School teachers knew students would have questions, so they quickly formulated a series of seminars about the event and related topics.

“Though conversations among students and teachers about these events are ongoing, and likely will be for weeks to come, the seminar series was designed to be a one-time thing,” said Ashley Crockett-Lohr, director of communications for the Carmel-based high school. “Our faculty designed 11 different sessions with the idea that each student will have different needs and different questions about these events, and the seminar setup allowed students to choose the best fit for them.”

Crockett-Lohr said the school’s faculty discussed how they would support their students in this politically unusual time.

“The idea our teachers kept coming back to was this, ‘Meet them where they are,’” Crockett-Lohr said.

As a result of University’s hybrid schedule, half the students attended one session Jan. 8 and the other half attended Jan. 12.

“Both ‘Restful Resistance’ and ‘A Reflective Walk Through West Park’ were popular ones, as I think many of our students are still processing the enormity of these events,” Crockett-Lohr said. “It is quite a human thing to be busy and overstimulated but having dedicated time to process and reflect proved valuable. Students who sought to gain new information about the events were especially drawn to ‘Social Psychology,’ ‘Conspiracy Theories’ and ‘U.S. Presidents: Coming & Going,’ among many others.”

The faculty met Jan. 7, and University Head of School Alicia Lamagdeleine decided to change plans for the Jan. 8 seminar. Lamagdeleine asked some teachers if there would be relevant sessions they could present.

“In less than a day, on top of their typical teaching schedule, our teachers designed sessions related to their interest/expertise,” Crockett-Lohr said. “Our director of international programs (Shannon Swann) taught a session on the global view of these events. Our Law in America teacher (Tom FitzGibbon) taught one on the legal standard for sedition. Our Associate Head of School Dave Vesper, a retired brigadier general in the Army National Guard, taught a session on past attacks on the U.S. Capitol, and so on.

“Eleven teachers took the lead on the sessions, but nearly all faculty participated in some way.”

The faculty designed the sessions, but the selected topics were informed heavily by the conversations between adults and students, Crockett-Lohr said.


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