Not only is this year Boys’ Latin’s 175th Anniversary, but it marks the 5th Anniversary of our Annual One Laker | One Love Day and partnership with the One Love Foundation. On Friday, April 12, the entire School will participate in a day focused on healthy relationships.
The One Laker | One Love event grew out of a student-led initiative and partnership with the One Love Foundation, which was created by Sharon Love, mother of Yeardley Love, the Baltimore native and University of Virginia student who tragically lost her life at the hands of her former boyfriend in 2010. BL was the first school in the nation to create a student club, the One Love Club, and today, Boys’ Latin is a flagship School for the One Love Foundation. The club strives to educate our boys on the importance of healthy relationships, to help boys identify the warning signs of relationship violence and most importantly, to empower boys and young men to make a difference in their lives and the lives of other students.
This year’s theme is “One Brotherhood Strong” focuses on how we, as a community, can improve how we treat each other every day.
The “one brotherhood” theme allows us to know and understand that no matter what our struggles, insecurities or things we may be questioning in our lives - we can come together to support one another. The message was delivered in age-appropriate ways across divisions. The lower school focused on relationships, friendships and kindness; the middle school focused on developing practical communication skills; upper school students focused on how they will go forward and #lovebetter in all their relationships.
Upper School faculty members Jimmy Morrissey and Nick Shepherd '12 ran an activity for students in the Gelston Athletic Center. The two leaders read statements that exemplified healthy or unhealthy relationship behaviors, and students were asked to step forward when they heard a statement that applied to them. The activity allowed students to reflect on their behavior and learn from the choices they made in the past while making the point that none of us are alone in both our best and our worst actions.
Students in the upper school attended an assembly in the Iglehart, in which speakers Courtney Mullin and Michael Wilcox addressed the topic of relationship violence. Mullen, a survivor of an abusive relationship, gave a detailed and heartwrenching account of her experience. She ended her speech with a statement of gratitude to the community. "Thank you for being a voice for people like me who don't always feel like they have one," she said, "Keep talking, keep learning and keep growing."
In his speech, Michael Wilcox, a graduate of McDonogh whose two brothers both attended BL, reminded the boys, "You started the conversation, and it doesn't have to stop."
For the Upper School, the program concluded with discussions in advisories about the day's themes. Each boy decorated a wooden cube with words and pictures to represent his own experience with both healthy and unhealthy relationships.
In the Lower School, the boys focused on friendship and kindness and what it means to “be a good friend.” They identified and discussed characteristics of friendship including our core values of courage, compassion, and integrity. They learned how to identify a “frenemy,” someone who acts like a friend and an enemy at the same time. Each grade participated in an age-appropriate activity including making a friendship classroom collage, a friendship rock, a friendship bracelet, going on a friendship scavenger hunt, and creating a "BL Brotherhood Collage.”
Middle school students enjoyed a school-wide scavenger hunt and a tower building competition with spaghetti and marshmallows. These activities helped build teamwork and communication skills in a hands-on way. Each grade level also participated in small group discussions on components of healthy relationships, laying the foundation for the learning they will do in the upper school.
One of the day's highlights was the aerial photograph, shot on the lower school turf. Dressed in white One Laker | One Love t-shirts, both students and faculty stood in the formation of a checkered heart, the One Love logo. The photograph, taken with a drone, serves as a visual representation of BL's commitment to spreading the message of the club and empowering boys to speak out against relationship violence.