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Unity Day Focuses on the Black Experience at St. Sebastian’s

The purpose of St. Sebastian’s School’s annual Unity Day celebration is to heighten our awareness of every person’s dignity and to strengthen the bonds that unite us so that all may grow in our capacity and resolve to know, to love, and to serve God and neighbor.

On Friday, November 6, our students and faculty gathered in spaces across campus to celebrate Unity Day, a powerfully positive annual event, which we launched in 2007. This year’s theme was the Black Experience at St. Sebastian’s, with a focus on Faith, Brotherhood, and the Arts.  

Trustee, Bishop John Borders P’03, Pastor of Morningstar Baptist Church, opened the day with a stirring prayer, a panoply of happy memories from his son’s days at St. Sebastian’s, and an impassioned plea for our students to see themselves as Moses, called by God to bring unity, understanding, and reconciliation.

Veteran Faculty Member, Meyer Chambers, his sons, Severin ’10 and Zachary ’14 and his wife, Beth, shared a video about their varied experiences in our faith community and beyond.  Henry Kennedy ’13 presented a brilliant paper on the Black plight in America and engaged in a candid conversation with his former football teammate and forever friend and soul mate, Conor Strachan ’14, about how their open dialogue on race deepened and strengthened their bond. Jordan Barros ’15, a talented artist, spoke about the concept of double consciousness and showed how he portrays this concept in his artwork. Marlon Matthews ’14 blessed us with his incredible gift of music (see video clip in image gallery), singing “My World Needs You” at the beginning of the program, and ending with “Wake Up Everybody,” accompanied by Christian Casiano ‘21 and faculty member Olivia Uhlman on the violin and Mr. Chambers on the piano. 

Aturo Adkins ’14, Assistant Director of Admissions, moderated the Alumni Forum, during which he, Henry, Marlon and Jordan, responded to questions from members of the senior class. Conducting themselves with refreshing candor, courage, confidence, equanimity, and grace, the panelists helped us gain a deeper and better understanding of their backgrounds and experiences, especially in the areas of race and identity. They dared to share excruciatingly painful experiences, while emphasizing their love of and eternal commitment to St. Sebastian’s.

Between presentations, Seniors led small groups of students in discussion, reflecting on what they heard and brainstorming ways to grow in faith, hope, and love. The program ended with a moving prayer from Fr. Arens, in which he reminded us all to listen intently and really hear each other, and a charge from Headmaster Burke to embrace the truth that we are responsible for more than our intentions and that we are called to grow in our capacity and resolve to love God, work hard, and take good care of one another. 

Kudos to Dean of Students, Brendan Sullivan, who worked tirelessly to create the program and to conscript our most excellent speakers and artists.  

Violinists perform at Unity Day