Ashley Hall Life2/1/23
Ashley Hall’s Multicultural Student Union Kicks Off 2023 With a New Sense of Community
On January 16, 2023, more than 100 groups marched in Charleston’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade including a spirited squad from Ashley Hall. The community outing was led by members of the Upper School Multicultural Student Union (MSU), and it was the group’s first event since the pandemic.
“Now that we’re back in person, we’re getting involved in the community in ways that we used to be involved before COVID-19,” says Assistant Head of School for Student Affairs and MSU faculty sponsor Cintra Horn. “The parade is just the beginning of what we have planned.”
From the group’s mission to upcoming events, here’s what to know about MSU at Ashley Hall.
THE MSU MISSION
“The purpose of MSU is to create awareness of diversity in the Ashley Hall community, as well as in our society,” says MSU member Selena Ruiz Luna ’24. During meetings, students dive into dialogue about different cultures, and brainstorm on ways they can create awareness around them, including taking part in community events.
MSU is open to every Upper School student, no matter race, gender, ethnicity, or cultural beliefs. “This group is for anyone,” says Director of Operations Rasheedah Harrison whose daughter Nadiyah McGill ’22 was also a member of the group during her time at Ashley Hall. “We are truly a diverse group, and we focus on every aspect of life where students may feel different. It’s about creating a sense of belonging and understanding across campus, and it’s for everyone.”
While the current MSU group is small, it has doubled in size since the start of the school year. Ruiz Luna, who will be a senior next year, has her sights on increasing involvement even more. “I hope to help grow the MSU group,” she says. “I will do so by having the group be involved in more events, and hopefully we will have a good impact so future Ashley Hall generations will continue the group!”
NEW MEMBERS, NEW ENERGY
This was not Ashley Hall’s first year proudly taking part in the city’s annual MLK Day parade. But it took a fresh perspective from new MSU members to get involved again after the pandemic.
“It was just perfect timing,” says Ashley Hall educator and operations team member Lamika Washington who submitted Ashley Hall’s application to walk in the parade back in September. It is Washington’s first year at Ashley Hall, and she joined MSU last semester. “As our new group members were really just getting started, it was the perfect first big event for us. It was the MLK holiday, it was the start of the new year—it all just came together.”
The morning of the parade, students met outside the School’s gates dressed in purple and white at 7:30 a.m. to head out into the community as a united front. “The students really showed up, including our amazing Panther,” says Horn. “It truly meant so much to people on the parade route. The children were especially excited to see our mascot, but everyone we passed was simply thrilled to see Ashley Hall.”
Next up for MSU will be a trip to Savannah in February to attend the Lowcountry Student Diversity Leadership Conference, an initiative to bring students together for leadership training, professional development, and networking. Now in its fourth year, the conference is hosted by Savannah Country Day School to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
“This conference has been running virtually throughout the pandemic, but again, now we’ll be back in person to meet up with folks from five or six other schools in the Lowcountry,” says Horn. “It will be a chance for our student leaders in this area to think about what they’d like to bring back to Ashley Hall.”
As for participating in the MLK Day parade again next year? Consider it a plan. “I only see our parade group getting bigger,” says Washington. “I see more kids getting involved because it’s not just for students of different races, it’s for everyone. I just want it to grow and grow. I would love to get the young girls involved by having the older girls coaching them on what to do. I see younger girls on the float next year, and older girls leading the way.”