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“Diversity is a fact. Equity is a choice. Inclusion is an action. Belonging is an outcome,” Arthur Chan writes, a diversity, equity, and inclusion strategist who helps organizations create better culture, products and services.

I think this quote perfectly encapsulates the process of making schools a better environment for every student that steps foot inside their walls. Speaking of the process, before learning about something and attempting to improve upon it, it is crucial to understand why the issue is important in the first place.

It is important to be valued and accepted because finding a community of like-minded people is arguably one of if not the most essential part of growing up.

Feeling like you are alone is not a fun feeling or way of living. School is easily the singular best place to find that community and/or meet and interact with people who share your struggles, thoughts, actions and hobbies, so naturally schools should foster diversity, equity and inclusion among students.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

Far too often in education, students do not feel accepted in the communities they find themselves in. This could be for a variety of reasons, but most commonly, I would imagine that it is because of their race, religion, age, sexual orientation or gender expression.

As a cis, straight white male, I don’t have much credibility in this field; I am exactly what the world doesn’t need more of and haven’t experienced discrimination like many others have.

That being said, I haven’t always felt accepted at school.

As a fairly introverted fellow, I have never been one to talk to someone I don’t know well or make new friends. There have routinely been classes where I know no one and talk to no one.

Also, due to taking advanced classes, many of the students have been quite a few years older than me, which did not help in making the comfort zone any more encompassing.

Obviously, I am aware that these issues I face at school are very insignificant when compared to the discrimination that many face, but nevertheless, they are worth talking about.

There are numerous ways that schools could become more inclusive environments.

For starters, schools could make sure that students and staff use and respect students’ proper pronouns; that is what the individual students want to be called, not just what is on the attendance roster.

Also, perhaps rather than barking rules at students as soon as they walk in the door, schools should put some effort into trying to make everyone feel welcome regardless of their race, the religion they practice or don’t practice, their sexual orientation, or what gender they identify with.

FWCS especially is a very diverse district, but rarely is that diversity celebrated. Maybe the morning announcements should start with a welcoming message directed at everyone no matter who they are rather than “put your cell phones away ... no hats and hoods … no headphones” and so on.

Additionally, schools should celebrate the success of everyone. Football and basketball aren’t the only extracurriculars that matter.

Everyone should know the best musicians, actors, chess players and the speech champion, too, not just the star athlete.

In summary, all of these suggestions are about forming a better culture that students want to be a part of.

I truly believe that if schools could find a way to have students actually want to come to school, it would be one of the biggest breakthroughs of the century.

A tall task indeed, but as the saying goes, “Nothing great happens overnight.”

Editor’s note: On Oct. 30, The Journal Gazette published the winning entries in its essay contest focused on “diversity, equity and inclusion.” Here we feature one of the runners-up.

Liam Campbell-Carpenter is a junior at North Side High School.