Arlington students celebrate diversity in schools
August 27, 2008 · Updated 4:57 PM
ARLINGTON Approximately 180 students from the Arlington School District marched for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Everett Jan. 16, but for the fourth- through 12-grade members of the schools Respect Teams who attended, this event was only one part of a year-round curriculum of celebrating diversity.
This year marks ASD students third-annual participation in the Everett MLK march, and a number of Arlington schools schedules made time for mini-marches around their own buildings that same day.
At 9:15 a.m., Kent Prairie Elementary students sang We Can Make a Difference at their mini-march, which they also sing every Friday.
It was first sung at Kent Prairie during a Respect summit two years ago, said ASD Public Information Coordinator Misti Gilman. Students loved it so much that the fifth-grade students drafted a petition and obtained signatures from other students, which they presented to their principal, to make it their school song.
At 1:55 p.m., Trafton Elementary students staged their own mini-march, chanting Trafton Tigers use Respect, and all holding their own signs, on which theyd each written their own dreams and visionary phrases.
Trafton Elementary fourth-grade teacher Judy Donoghue pointed out that Arlington students took first, second and third place in the 2008 Prodigies for Peace Writing Contest, for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration of Snohomish County. Trafton Elementary fifth-grader R.J. Pasmore placed third, Pioneer Elementary third-grader Jordan Kraski placed second, and Presidents Elementary fourth-grader Garrett Kvam placed first.
ASD Respect Process Coordinator Sarah Cofer explained that January and February have boasted a number of Respect Process events, including the Respect Poster contest.
Arlington High School held its MLK assembly Jan. 15 and is already preparing for its Soul Food Sampler in February. The Kent Prairie and Eagle Creek elementaries have conducted Mix It Up days and dispensed Respect Tickets to students who show respect toward one another, while Kent Prairie students have also taken part in peace-centric coloring and essay contests.
Cofer elaborated that Presidents Elementary has delivered morning messages of respect in its classrooms, Pioneer Elementary has produced a series of Kindness Begins with Me banners, and Haller Middle School has been working on a respect-centric newsletter.
Trafton Elementary has presented Culture in Our Classrooms, a series of art, writing, fashion and even cooking activities, all designed to introduce students to other cultures. As for Post Middle School, it preceded its Jan. 18 Students of Color Conference with a Jan. 17 MLK assembly that featured a performer from Living Voices.
Performer Sumayya Diop was visiting Post for the first time, but Living Voices has come to the school in previous years.
Its really powerful for the kids to be able to see and interact with these actors, said Post Middle School Principals Intern Jane Downey. It helps them experience history as a living thing, in the moment.
Diop reenacted the life of Ruby Hollis, an African-American woman who ran for a position on her town council in the Deep South during the 1960s. With the video projection on the wall beside her serving as the voices of the other people in Hollis life, Diop played Hollis herself, describing to the students what it was like to grow up in the Jim Crow era of segregation, during the 1930s and 40s. She went on to relay Hollis firsthand account of what it was like to join the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s.
I want to show what a struggle it was to be brought up and come of age in that era, Diop said. It didnt just affect her, but her family and all the people around her. I hope this instills in the students a greater awareness of themselves, of the civil rights movement, and of the part that young people played in it.
Diops performance included photos of the beatings and lynchings that blacks suffered, for taking part in sit-ins and voter registrations, as well as descriptions of the fears and indignities that they endured on a daily basis. Several students gasped, flinched, averted their eyes and even wept, and a few thanked Diop personally afterwards.
Post students Danielle Derum and Sarah Berryman helped Diop hold up a poster which illustrated aspects of Jim Crow at the beginning of her presentation, and they returned to ask for her autograph.
I had to look away sometimes, and I cried twice, Berryman said. Its great that she can come to our school and help us understand.