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Branson Program Highlights Sexual Assault Awareness, Healing, and Prevention
Branson Communications

On Thursday, April 11, 2024, Branson held a special community gathering with guest speakers, workshops, and an art show in recognition of Sexual Assault Prevention Month. The half-day program for all students, faculty, and staff acknowledged past sexual abuse at Branson and educated our students about the prevention of sexual assault and abuse. 

Since August of 2021, Branson leadership has engaged in a healing and restorative process with alumnae survivors of past sexual abuse at Branson. Stemming from this work, the purpose of the day was threefold: to give our students tools to keep themselves safe from assault, to acknowledge the process we engaged in with the alumnae, and to share outcomes of our long and meaningful journey with our students.

First, students met in small workshops led by members of our Student Support team. Afterward, the whole school gathered in the gym to hear from alumnae Hailey Brooks Weisel ‘19 and Whitney Pinger ‘78, followed by Q&A facilitated by current Branson students. Branson Music Teacher Kindra Scharich led over 50 members of our community singing “I Am Light” by India Arie Simpson. Afterward, everyone processed to the field for a closing ceremony. Each participant placed a flower in the center of the field to commemorate the past abuse that occurred at Branson and to honor the courage of the survivors.

The event also featured a special exhibit of artwork submitted by alums and students. The exhibition was committed to creating a supportive and inclusive space for survivors and allies alike. The artworks aimed to foster healing, promote awareness, and challenge societal attitudes towards sexual trauma. The exhibit was on display in the New House Gallery from April 11-19 and will be displayed again for the Alumni Weekend celebration on June 8, 2024.

Head of School Chris Mazzola shared the importance of this difficult work in her introductory remarks: "I am a believer that shining light in the dark corners allows us to identify and hopefully repair the ills that plague any community. And it was shining the light honestly and bravely in the dark corners that has brought us to this moment today. Critical self-reflection and accountability were key to our approach to providing new safeguards for keeping you all safe, and included the creation of a robust boundary policy, new protocols for student protections both in and outside Branson, more trainings for faculty and staff, more education at each level of the Branson student journey, and more school wide presentations like the one we are having today."

Learn more about Branson’s commitment to student safety.