When you walk through the halls of Seaton Elementary School, you’ll notice that no classroom is alike. Maybe it’s the vibrant attitudes of the students sitting at their desks. Or maybe it’s the teachers eagerly standing before their students knowing that their words and actions will have a profound impact on who they will become in the next week, months, and years to come. This is the spirit of Seaton Elementary.
But on May 23, Seaton’s student body was even more upbeat than usual because it was multicultural day, an initiative DC SCORES students have been working toward since the beginning of the spring season.
In mid-March, students set their service-learning project goal to celebrate diversity within their school community by engaging in a school-wide multicultural research initiative aimed at making students, faculty and community members aware and educated about different cultures.
To accomplish this, they first researched the aspects of a culture by gaining an understanding of tangible cultural symbols such as food, arts and ethnic clothing, to the things that were not as visible such as customs and languages. The students then made them into a culture tree that showed all of these factors. They learned that while it may be respectful to kiss both cheeks when greeting someone in Spain, this might not be received well in Thailand.
With this information, Seaton’s poet-athletes turned to their families to gain more insight into how culture plays a role in their own lives. They interviewed their parents, aunts and uncles, and grandparents, asking thought-provoking questions such as:
“What ethnic traditions does our family celebrate?” and “How do we practice tolerance and understanding?”
Then DC SCORES students took their interview takeaways and transformed them into activities that would take place on multicultural day.
Some activities included having each classroom pick a country to research and decorating their doors with the different things they learned about the country’s culture.
To celebrate all that was learned, a schoolwide multicultural day was held which invited teachers, students, parents and community members to share different parts of their culture through food, performances and even a celebratory parade.
Shai, 11, reflected on what she learned and said, “I think the best part about learning about different cultures means that everyone is included and they get a chance to share what makes them different from me.
“It’s also fun to try new things, and when you get others to try new things, it makes them excited to celebrate those things too.”
This is the second consecutive year that Seaton Elementary has celebrated multicultural day. Its founding falls directly in line with Seaton Elementary’s goal to promote diversity and inclusion within its community.
When speaking to her students about the impact of their service-learning project, Ms. Sontag, Seaton’s service-learning coach, said, “You guys are leaders in this school. You teach others about how to appreciate and understand different cultures even though it’s different from your own. The younger kids look up to you because of that.”
Through the multicultural day project, Seaton’s DC SCORES students reminded their school community to celebrate diversity not just on a single day but every day. The student’s service-learning project was created with the intention of celebrating all that Seaton Elementary is as a school, as students, as faculty and as impactful community members.