By Nora Garg
SLA just recently started planning for its first-ever Culture Day hosted by the Students Of Color Association, which was founded this school year. To provide context, it was declared much needed by students of color at our school, who were surprised that the only Culture Day we had was a diluted part of Spirit Week. Even though it’s understandable that due to all that’s happened in the past few years, our school wouldn’t have time to organize an event like this, consensus says it’s definitely been long due!
The process started with a proposal crafted for Mr.Lehmann by the students in SOCA (Students Of Color Association). In this proposal, we included why our school must have a Culture Day. It would give opportunities for minorities to interact with each other in a school that lacks immigrant culture, and reserve a day for us to stand with each other. So often, all talk associated with minorities is negative, but we need space to show off our cultures and heritage that run so deep in our roots. We would learn more about the cultures of our student body, as well as help students of color to accept and engage more in their identities as well as connect more to them.
When the email was first crafted, Culture Day only included a food market and students coming to school in cultural clothing, but soon it turned into so much more. After getting Ms.Ustaris involved, we’ve obtained workshops; lessons; and a whole school day dedicated to Culture Day. This is a huge step in offering all the students at our school more insight into different cultures and introducing them to new food and music.
As this process has played out, it’s already helped to build a sense of community and help students find their crowds. More and more students show up at the weekly SOCA meetings, and the date even had to be moved because seniors wanted to take part. Every meeting, I’m seeing more and more students bond over things they usually don’t talk about during their school days, and I’ve seen students who tend to be shy participate more confidently in discussions and really take the lead in planning and organizing.
The SOCA is thrilled that we have a whole day devoted to appreciating different cultures and making space for them in our school, and I feel such a sense of gratitude knowing this would help teachers to be diverse educators and understand their students better. Additionally, all the proceeds would go back into SOCA to fund teach-ins, trips, and more opportunities for students at our school to expand their horizons.