Di­ver­sity aware­ness art pro­ject unites Kutz­town, North Philly stu­dents

Hill Freed­man Academy stu­dents vis­ited Kutz­town High School on April 11

The Kutztown Area Patriot - - FRONT PAGE - By Lisa Mitchell lmitchell@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @kutz­town­pa­triot on Twit­ter

Kutz­town Area High School re­ceived a visit from stu­dents from Hill Freed­man Academy of North Philadel­phia, cre­at­ing a di­ver­sity aware­ness art pro­ject with a se­lect group of Kutz­town stu­dents on April 11.

“We used art and we used multi-me­dia to cre­ate un­der­stand­ing of di­ver­sity,” said Kutz­town High School As­sis­tant Prin­ci­pal Ed­ward My­ers. “What di­ver­sity means to dif­fer­ent stu­dents. Those stu­dents had an op­por­tu­nity to use that con­cept and ap­ply it to art. It was a col­lab­o­ra­tive ac­tiv­ity that we did.”

The two groups of stu­dents - 32 from Kutz­town and 16 from North Philadel­phia - cre­ated a col­la­bor-

ative art pro­ject to­gether, each col­or­ing a pi­ano key and writ­ing a word that de­scribes them­selves. Each school will have a copy of the com­pleted art pro­ject they cre­ated to­gether that they can look back on.

My­ers said the goal was to raise di­ver­sity aware­ness and show how to make the world a lit­tle bit more of an un­der­stand­ing place.

Stu­dents also had the op­por­tu­nity to share their per­spec­tives about di­ver­sity on video. The videos will be used to cre­ate pub­lic ser­vice an­nounce­ments.

My­ers hopes the two groups of stu­dents learn that di­ver­sity is a key con­cept in ev­ery­one’s life.

“We live in a di­verse world and the more that we com­mu­ni­cate and the more that we col­lab­o­rate and work to un­der­stand each other, not only are we go­ing to get along bet­ter as hu­man be­ings, but we’re go­ing to be able to prob­lem solve and do great things in the world to­gether.”

The visit by the Hill Freed­man stu­dents was part of the pro­gram called the World L.A.B.S. School Com­mu­nity Col­lab­o­ra­tive. My­ers said Kutz­town also cur­rently has a World L.A.B.S. Lead­er­ship Col­lab­o­ra­tive and a World L.A.B.S. Busi­ness Col­lab­o­ra­tive. The L.A.B.S. acro­nym stands for Lan­guages, Arts, Busi­ness, and So­cial Sciences.

Kutz­town and Hill Freed­man have been vis­it­ing one an­other’s schools over the past cou­ple years, start­ing with a small group of stu­dents and in­creas­ing the num­ber of par­tic­i­pants over time. The first group of Kutz­town stu­dents were sopho­mores and con­tinue to par­tic­i­pate as se­niors. New stu­dents have joined over the years.

“We look to build their in­volve­ment in the fu­ture,” he said.

The over­all goal of the pro­gram is to pro­mote con­cepts such as di­ver­sity aware­ness, cul­tural un­der­stand­ing and col­lab­o­ra­tion, ac­cep­tance and tol­er­ance.

“All those skills that we need, not only as peo­ple but as busi­ness peo­ple in our cho­sen pro­fes­sions, to be out in the world and un­der­stand­ing bet­ter and to get along,” said My­ers. “That’s what we re­ally want the stu­dents to un­der­stand and just to bring them closer to­gether and pro­vide op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

Kutz­town se­niors Jil­lian Siefert, 17; Olivia Sica, 18; Kennedi Cav­a­lier, 17; and Amaya Deck, 18, have par­tic­i­pated since their sopho­more year.

“I get re­ally ex­cited to see every­body (from Hill Freed­man),” said Siefert. “We’ve grown to­gether and we’ve all bonded and we had a friend­ship grow. It’s re­ally nice to see them.”

Siefert said Kutz­town is a small, close knit school so hav­ing the stu­dents from Hill Freed­man come gives them a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive of a school in a city.

“I hope that this pro­gram keeps grow­ing and more peo­ple get in­volved be­cause it’s a lot of fun,” said Siefert.

Sica en­joyed the op­por­tu­nity to in­ter­act with peo­ple from Philadel­phia who are her age.

“Be­ing able to in­ter­act with them and learn­ing about the city is one of the rea­sons why I ap­plied to Tem­ple,” said Sica. “Just be­ing able to talk to new peo­ple opened my per­spec­tive.”

Sica said many of the Hill Freed­man stu­dents had never seen a cow be­fore while she had never rid­den on the sub­way.

“It helps us to cre­ate friend­ships,” added Sica. “When we went over there, I was as­tounded at how eas­ily we were able to con­nect with each other. We were friends in like two min­utes. It was awe­some.”

Cav­a­lier said it was great to meet peo­ple from Philadel­phia and see how their school is dif­fer­ent from Kutz­town.

“We can all con­nect even though we’re from two dif­fer­ent ar­eas,” said Cav­a­lier. “We con­nected im­me­di­ately.”

Cav­a­lier said cre­at­ing the art pro­ject to­gether ex­plains who they are and how they can all con­nect even though they are dif­fer­ent.

Deck said par­tic­i­pat­ing in the pro­gram has been a great ex­pe­ri­ence.

“I’ve been able to meet a lot of new kids,” said Deck. “Be­cause our school is so close and so small, it opens up the hori­zons to other sit­u­a­tions that go on in other places.”

Hill Freed­man se­nior Bran­don Lima, 18, said, “To­day’s visit gave me more in­sight about not only how dif­fer­ent Philly and Kutz­town is, trac­tor races and stuff like that, but most im­por­tantly the dif­fer­ence in cul­ture I think is re­ally big but shows that every­body can get along.”

Lima said it’s not about trav­el­ing dis­tances, “It’s a mat­ter of tak­ing the step to in­ves­ti­gate new cul­tures. I think this is a won­der­ful op­por­tu­nity.”

Hill Freed­man se­nior Diego Joseph, 18, said, “I think it’s a good ex­pe­ri­ence for ev­ery high schooler be­cause some­times we’re just encased in one area, whereas now we can travel and meet other high school­ers who are go­ing through the same strug­gles that we are be­cause we’re all teenagers.”

The day spent vis­it­ing Kutz­town was a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for Joseph.

“We get to meet so many great peo­ple who are just like us,” said Joseph. “They have a heart just like us... A lot of laughs, a lot of love.”

Joseph ex­pressed his grat­i­tude for the op­por­tu­nity to visit Kutz­town.

“The love is real. We love you guys so much and I just hope this keeps go­ing,” said Joseph.

The Hill Freed­man stu­dents and Kutz­town stu­dents hugged one an­other be­fore the Philly stu­dents headed back home on their bus.

LISA MITCHELL - DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Kutz­town Area High School re­ceived a visit from stu­dents from Hill Freed­man Academy of North Philadel­phia on April 11.

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