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ODSS celebrates the ‘Humans of OD’ through visual showcase

June 22, 2021

ORANGEVILLE, Ontario – Orangeville District Secondary School recently started an initiative that showcases the diverse students and staff at the school.

The idea of Humans of OD was started by teacher Corin Mercey as a way to build community, create culture and foster connections throughout the school by creating an awareness in the school of the lived experiences that exist at ODSS.

What started as a Google Form asking students and staff a series of questions, blossomed into a unique experience for students to share their voice with their peers, teachers, administrators, and community members.

The Humans of OD project generated poster profiles from staff and several students. The posters showcase various voices about growing up, living in the community of Orangeville, cultural traditions and meals, and how lived experiences have shaped their racial identity.

Grade 12 student Diora, shared how the experience of growing up in a predominantly white culture has impacted how she saw herself and her racial identity and the ups and downs of this experience, to finally learning to love herself and the colour of her skin. Diora said that she decided to sign up for the project in the hopes that her voice would help others see that they can love themselves and not hate their racial identity.

This project also allowed students to express how hurtful racial stereotyping is and allowed them to share the ideas and concerns they have that could help make racialized students feel more welcome and less stigmatized by certain experiences at school and in the community.

The project provided a voice to students who have visible and invisible disabilities. Graduating student Matt expressed the need for staff and administrators to see past a student’s disability by saying that there’s “too much time spent in treating our disabilities than our abilities.”

The Humans of OD posters will be featured in the school yearbook, but also have a place of prominence in the school.

When the posters were ready to make their debut in the school, former school principal Pat Hamilton made the decision to remove the pictures of former ODSS principals from the main hallway and use the space to showcase the diversity and voice of those who work and go to ODSS.

Now when students, staff and community members enter the school, they are no longer greeted with the faces of the past but are greeted with the faces and voices of the present and future of ODSS.

Those involved in the Humans of OD project hope that this project not only helps to improve the culture for students at ODSS, but they hope that this project will spread to other schools in our board as we recognize the importance of hearing and listening to the voices of those who matter most in our system, our students.

To view some of the Humans of OD posters, click the following links:

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