Here at Excelsior, honoring cultural diversity and celebrating individual differences is a top priority. Our girls comes from a variety of different backgrounds, cultures and lifestyles and we recognize how important these things are to each individual. In an effort to celebrate the heritage of all our youth and staff, Excelsior has formed a Cultural Diversity Committee that focuses on a different culture each month and celebrates the unique aspects of that culture.
To kick off the Cultural Diversity Committee projects, Excelsior staff and girls explored who they are and where they came from with “I Am” poems. When someone asks us who we are, we typically respond with our name, and maybe mention something about our job or family. It’s unusual for someone to respond with facts about their heritage or culture. So we challenged our girls to research their backgrounds and write poems expressing themselves from the perspective of their cultural history and heritage. The girls even started work on individual Vision Boards with which they have tied together their past and present to dream up their vision for the future.
Black History Month
Since the girls (and staff) loved creating the “I Am” poems, the Diversity Committee incorporated a similar activity into the next month of celebration – Black History Month. Taking inspiration from Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, the girls wrote poems about their dreams and visions for the future. Each class also worked together to research facts about important people or moments in history that helped define this culture. Then they creatively and artistically incorporated them into a display for their classroom doors. Excelsior’s talented kitchen staff even took part in the cultural festivities, making homemade sweet cornbread served with honey for an afternoon snack. Finally, the highlight of Black History Month at Excelsior was the Motown Showdown – a talent show of sorts, performed by staff members for the girls. The songs of great artists like Aretha Franklin, The Temptations, and James Brown drifted down the hallways as brave staff members took the stage to sing, dance and celebrate Black History!
Irish Heritage Month
As most people know, March is the time of year where we celebrate the Irish! St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated around the world, a day in which the streets are painted green and shamrocks are seen everywhere. Some people even spend the day searching for those legendary leprechauns, who are hiding somewhere protecting a pot of gold. Well this year Excelsior is trying to lure him in with Leprechaun Ice Cream Cones (bugles and green sherbet) and Leprechaun Hersey Kisses (mini chocolate chips) – two treats that no leprechaun can resist!
These activities have been quite a hit with our girls (and staff!). It’s obvious that the girls love having the opportunity to express themselves and they’ve been engaged in learning more about themselves and the people around them.