This week, the Middle School held an assembly on differing abilities—conceived, coordinated, and moderated by Lexi Berzok ’25. On Tuesday, Lexi screened a pre-recorded teaser of the live panel discussion scheduled to follow on Wednesday afternoon. Students, teachers, and other community members had the chance to see and hear from the four panelists as well as Lexi, the moderator of the program. The panel featured Lexi’s 16-year-old brother, Ben Berzok, who has autism; Madeline Kornfield, a 14-year-old with high-functioning autism; Kiana Wolcott, a therapist who has more than 20 years experience working with people of all ages with differing abilities; Lauren Clark, an occupational therapist at a local independent school that specializes in helping kids with differing abilities; and Doug Usher ’87, a GDS alum who is also the parent of a teen with cerebral palsy.
Lexi was eager to spread the word about the assembly because of how passionate she is about the topic. She explained, “The main goal of this assembly is for students and faculty to gain perspective on what it's like to live with a differing ability, teach someone with a differing ability, work with someone with a differing ability, and have a family member with a differing ability. My hope is that everyone leaves with a new perspective on differing abilities, learns something new, relates to it in some way, and knows that everyone is different and that's okay.”
On Wednesday, Lexi moderated the live panel and asked questions of each panelist. At one point she asked, “Since GDS doesn’t serve a lot of people with differing abilities, what is something our school could do to educate our community about the history of the [Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)]?” Even in a moment designed and led by a student, the assembly focused on depth of understanding in a historical context and community minded advocacy.