One of the wonderful components about being a part of a school community that spans preschool 3 through grade 12, is joining together across divisions to learn from each other about special events and holidays observed by the rich diversity of our community. Families and caregivers are likely to have heard Lower School children talk about various joyful cultural celebrations and religious observances that they have learned about across the span of the school year.
This month, however, there have been some special national observances that highlight times throughout history and present time when people have not been accepting of human difference and where fear, misunderstanding and hate of the “other” prevailed; thrusting groups of people into devastating conflict and horrendous outcomes that we must strive not to replicate.
The Lower School faculty was faced with examining these more challenging observances, that will be discussed in age-appropriate ways in the Middle and Upper Schools, in ways that would best resonate with Lower School children.
The Lower School Diversity Professional Learning Group (PLG) took on this charge and planned two events that sought to help our youngest community members understand, value and celebrate our commonalities and our differences. Guided by the school’s Diversity Values Statement and the school’s Mission Statement, The Day of Remembrance and The Day of Silence were approached from a place of love and understanding.
On Wed., April 19th the Lower School approached the Day of Remembrance, which focuses specifically on the atrocities of the Holocaust, yet also begs us to call to mind the painful reality of the impact of genocide of people across various cultures and communities. A decision was made to refocus the Lower School’s observance of this day by helping the children to appreciate, notice and wonder about our commonalities and differences and how those commonalities and differences can foster unity and peace. The journey to the April 19th exhibit was paved with full participation of each Lower School faculty member. The culminating event was very powerful and is something that we would like our families and caregivers to experience. Please read the article here in this issue of Lower School Notes, submitted by the Diversity Professional Learning Group, that outlines specific details about the approach to this day. Please also “Save-the Dates” from May 2 through May 5 to experience this “Day of Remembrance – Celebrating our Commonalities and Differences” Peace and Unity Gallery exhibit, and to learn more about our quest to celebrate our commonalities, our differences, peace and unity: click here for details.
On Fri., April 21st, the Lower School also approached the national Day of Silence, which focuses on the silence that gay and lesbian people experience as a result of bullying and intolerance. Through the guiding hands of the Lower School Diversity Professional Learning Group, we approached the observance by focusing on how love makes a family. We were joined by students from the Upper School who listened to our faculty read a story about love in a family.
As we enter the weekend where many families will observe Earth Day, it is our hope that some of the themes that the children encountered this week – unity, peace, and love – transfer easily into conversations about our shared responsibility, across differences, to take good care of our planet. This issue of Lower School Notes also includes an article about the Lower School Planeteers First Annual Reunion Celebration submitted by Lower School science teacher, Beth Lemire. As a bonus, there is an article about ping pong coming to the Lower School.
Finally, a few upcoming event reminders:
> D-E 360° Summer Connections (SC) Open House is this Saturday, April 22. This year, SC 2017 is in session from June 26 – August 4, 2017. Explore the Habitats of the World with the Discoveries & Adventures and Junior Summer Day Camp offerings for children in preschool (age 3) – Grade 4. Click here or visit de360.d-e.org/summer for details. Call 201-227-3144 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
> The D-E Spring Carnival is this Sunday, April 23, “RAIN or SHINE”! This FREE admission annual event is for all D-E families. Volunteer for “D-E Fights Hunger” (our community food packing ), from 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM in Modell’s Sports Complex. Click here to volunteer. From 12:00 – 3:00 PM, enjoy activities hosted by D-E Student Activities and a NEW! STEM Festival in Hajjar STEM Center, featuring 3D Printing, Robotics demonstrations, “dry ice” ice cream. For more details click here or visit http://www.d-e.org/news.
> Save the date & celebrate Cinco de Mayo in style on Thursday, May 4: the 8th Annual Fiesta Mexicana is for all D-E families and is held to support efforts for teacher education training in Mexico. Click here to learn more.