Dempsey Middle School held its annual Diversity Fair Wednesday. The event featured a dance crew, snacks, and a variety of informational booths designed to let students know of all the different programs available for them to get involved in.
Assistant Dempsey Principal Brittney Nowlin organized the event. She said the goal is to create a sense of community at the school.
“This year, we want to be able to create a positive school culture that promotes kindness,” Nowlin said. “That creates and cultivates an environment where students feel like they belong and are included.”
Nowlin added the event’s main focus is on equality.
“We want to make things fair and equitable for a diverse population, and diversity does not just mean race. We are looking at the broad scheme of diversity,” she said. “Our students come from backgrounds that even we are learning about, and we need to be able to serve them so that they feel like they belong and are included within our population and our culture. To make sure every student feels like they belong.”
One group promoting a positive school culture were the students running the booth for the school’s library. They had computers set up to sign students up for a 30-day kindness challenge, created by sixth grader Ava Yost.
“I’m presenting my project about kindness,” Yost said. “It’s a 30-day challenge and you start on day one, and each day it gives you a random act of kindness to do to spread kindness and positivity at our school.”
Yost added being kind can have big effects on schools and students.
“It’s important because if you’re nice to people, then most likely they’ll be nice to other people, and it will make people happier. If you’re happier, you’ll do better in school because you won’t have things to worry about,” Yost said.
English learners teacher Brittany King and her students were handing out candy and snacks from several countries during the fair. King said she wanted to give students a taste of the rest of the world.
“My students are from seven different countries,” she said. “So, everyone speaks different languages in our room. They all have different backgrounds. So, we’ve got Mexican candy, Puerto Rican candy, and an Egyptian desert.”
King said the fair gives her students a chance to share their culture with other students at Dempsey.
“This is their chance to not just have to be American every day, they can share their favorite stuff with everybody,” King said, adding she enjoyed watching students flock to her class’ booth to try the food.
“I love to see kids actually wanting to try new things. Sometimes they are scared, so it’s nice to see them be a little adventurous,” King said.
Lydia Cleaver-Bartholomew, the community engagement specialist at Community Refugee and Immigration Services, had students play a game where they matched flags to their country at her booth.
“We’re a refugee resettlement agency, so we help to have refugees start a new life here in the US, and these are the flags of most of the countries we’ve worked with,” Cleaver-Bartholomew said. “It’s a game, but it’s also to show there are so many different types of people here.”
Cleaver-Bartholomew added many students didn’t recognize a single flag on the table.
“I hope they take away that there’s a really big world out there to learn about,” she said.
At the event, students had a “passport” and had to visit and engage with a number of booths to get their passports stamped.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.