Schools cel­e­brate di­ver­sity

Record Observer - - Front Page - By HAN­NAH COMBS hcombs@kibay­times.com

STEVENSVILLE — Di­ver­sity is look­ing a lit­tle dif­fer­ent thanks to stu­dents in Queen Anne’s County. On June 5, youth from Queen Anne’s County Pub­lic Schools who are com­mit­ted to mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in their schools and com­mu­nity were rec­og­nized at Mat­a­peake Mid­dle School.

“Di­ver­sity for Life” is a way to carry the mes­sage of di­ver­sity for­ward, ac­cord­ing to hosts and spon­sors, Brad En­gel, su­per­vi­sor of Stu­dent Sup­port Ser­vices and om­buds­man for QACPS; John Queen, tran­si­tion co­or­di­na­tor; and the Queen Anne’s County Multi-Cul­tural Pro­fi­ciency Com­mit­tee. The event was also sup­ported by Ch­e­sa­peake Helps and the Char­ac­ter Counts pro­gram.

“This is the kind of event that brings peo­ple to­gether,” said En­gel, “We love all of our chil­dren in Queen Anne’s County, and this event high­lighted the great di­ver­sity our stu­dents.”

En­gel said they wanted to carry the mes­sage of di­ver­sity for­ward, the stu­dents nom­i­nated by fac­ulty for their lead­er­ship in mak­ing their school and com­mu­nity a more ac­cept­ing and friendly en­vi­ron­ment were asked to share their sto­ries with us and are great ex­am­ples of lead­er­ship and char­ac­ter in our schools.

The re­cep­tion rec­og­nized the fol­low­ing stu­dents from schools through­out the county: Abi Al­tami­rano, Chloe Boggs, Gre­gory Couch, Taquan Court­ney, Katie Perez Galan, Ri­cardo Gon­za­lez, Me­gan Ham­mond, JaLyn Hicks, Jiyah Hol­lis, Clau­dia Jensen, Ke’Juan John­son, Ka­reema Jones, Chris­tian Matthews, Syrus Mc­Gowan and Jurnee Wil­son.

“How proud I am of the work we are do­ing in Queen Anne’s County,” In­terim Su­per­in­ten­dent Greg Pilewski told the stu­dents be­ing rec­og­nized, “to draw at­ten­tion to what makes QA great ... our di­ver­sity makes it great ... en­hances our school sys­tem and com­mu­nity, and I’m proud of the work we’ve done.”

The stu­dents present had a chance to thank those adults in their lives who had in­spired them and to share how they were mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in their sur­round­ings. Many shared how in­flu­en­tial their par­ents, gran­par­ents, teach­ers and coaches were.

Syrus Mc­Gowan, a stu­dent at Sudlersville Mid­dle school, said, “All I can do is con­tinue to work hard and defy stereo­types in the class­room and com­mu­nity.”

Otto Ja­cobs, a 7th-grader at Mat­a­peake Mid­dle School, was rec­og­nized for his car­ing and in­clu­sion of stu­dents with dis­abil­i­ties, show­ing that di­ver­sity is also about in­clud­ing oth­ers not only based on their color, but also other dif­fer­ences.

Stu­dent leader of the Sudlersville Ele­men­tary Ea­gle Squad, Ri­cardo Gon­za­lez was nom­i­nated for his lead­er­ship abil­ity. His teacher said he is a great leader on the play­ground at re­cess and or­ga­nizes soc­cer games with his peers of di­verse back­grounds and is a stu­dent leader in sup­port­ing con­flict res­o­lu­tion.

A fifth-grader at Gra­sonville Ele­men­tary, Clau­dia Jensen was able to help a new stu­dent who spoke Span­ish and very lit­tle English. Clau­dia, who had spent time liv­ing abroad in Spain was very flu­ent in Span­ish, vol­un­teered to help trans­late for her to help her with the rou­tines, pro­ce­dures and di­rec­tions dur­ing her first sev­eral weeks of school. Clau­dia’s will­ing­ness to help made this other stu­dent’s tran­si­tion to GES a lit­tle eas­ier, said GES staff.

Stevensville Mid­dle School Prin­ci­pal Kevin Kin­top nom­i­nated Ke’Juan John­son. Ke’Juan is just one of those guys that gets along with ev­ery­one. Aca­dem­i­cally, ath­let­i­cally .... it doesn’t mat­ter. Ev­ery­one likes him and he gen­uinely treats ev­ery­one the same, said Kin­top’s nom­i­na­tion.

An­other stu­dent at SES, Katie Perez Galan is a third­grader and rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the Stu­dent Gov­ern­ment As­so­ci­a­tion. Her teacher said she nom­i­nated Katie be­cause, while many third­grade His­panic stu­dents are wel­com­ing and kind to Span­ish-speak­ing new­com­ers, in gen­eral, she said she ob­served that they do not reach out to stu­dents who are not His­panic. They rarely step out of their cul­tural groups when on the play­ground for re­cess or when they are given the choice of class­mates with whom to part­ner for class, PFY, or school­wide ac­tiv­i­ties. Katie works with stu­dents of all back­grounds and speaks for ev­ery­one in her class when she is rep­re­sent­ing them in SGA meet­ings and works ef­fec­tively with oth­ers to achieve small group goals suc­cess­fully.

Gre­gory Couch-Pur­pose, Bay­side Ele­men­tary, cre­ated a pro­ject named Pro­ject Li­nus. It in­volves col­lect­ing blan­kets for chil­dren who are in the hos­pi­tal to pro­vide com­fort to them. His ef­fort to bring in­clu­sion to stu­dents who are phys­i­cally ill and rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the Char­ac­ter Counts pil­lars was the rea­son he was nom­i­nated.

Stu­dent Taquan Court­ney shared this thought, “Di­ver­sity may not be the hard­est thing for so­ci­ety to be with, but the most dan­ger­ous thing for so­ci­ety to be with­out.” Chris­tian Mathews also re­flected on the sub­ject, “Di­ver­sity is about all of us, and about us hav­ing to fig­ure out how to walk through this world to­gether.”

Jurnee Wil­son, a stu­dent at Centreville Mid­dle School, was com­mended for her nat­u­ral lead­er­ship and abil­ity to fo­cus on her own per­sonal de­vel­op­ment and ig­nore all drama that may be go­ing on around her. She un­der­stands that with di­ver­sity comes a wealth of dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ences and knowl­edge, her nom­i­na­tion said.

Me­gan Ham­mond started a Di­ver­sity Club at Kent Is­land High School called We the Peo­ple. An in­ter­est meet­ing is planned be­fore the end of the school year, in an ef­fort to open the af­ter school club to more mem­bers this fall. She said the group will be a place to learn about and ap­pre­ci­ate other cul­tures and to unite all peo­ple no mat­ter what race, gen­der, re­li­gion, eth­nic­ity and age. Hence the name We the Peo­ple. Ham­mond said that she hopes to en­cour­age more than just tol­er­ance of other groups, but also an un­der­stand­ing that we are all the same, while shar­ing and cel­e­brat­ing our dif­fer­ent cul­tures. Too of­ten, she said, we don’t re­ally try to find out who peo­ple are ... we let our color de­fine us.

“These stu­dents make it a pri­or­ity to in­clude oth­ers and stand up for oth­ers. I am so proud of the 16 hon­orees for re­ceiv­ing this award,” said En­gel.

HAN­NAH COMBS

Eric Daniels and Brad En­gel lead the crowd in a ren­di­tion of “Stand by Me”.

HAN­NAH COMBS

Stu­dents from Queen Anne’s County Pub­lic Schools are rec­og­nized June 5 for their ef­forts in be­ing good lead­ers and pro­mot­ing in­clu­sive­ness.

HAN­NAH COMBS

Cel­e­brat­ing di­ver­sity in Queen Anne’s County at Mat­a­peake Mid­dle School, June 5.

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