Culture week acknowledges students from all backgrounds


Annie Flynn, In-Depth Editor

Culture week at DGN was put on during March this year for the first time as a way to broaden student’s knowledge and appreciation for the different cultures within our building.

The Purpose:

The idea of culture week came from the Changemakers club back in 2019 as a way to bring understanding of the student body at DGN. Mike Melie, co-sponsor of the changemakers, believed this year would be best to make it happen.

“A piece of the changemaker’s mission is storytelling. We know that through telling stories and understanding other people’s stories you can build connections with people, and so this is just one way to deepen connections between students,” Melie said.

Culture week was a time to celebrate diversity within the student body and allow students to be recognized for who they are. Principal Courtney Dement feels culture week served it’s purpose in acknowledging differences within our building.

“The purpose of culture week was to recognize and celebrate all of the cultures that make up our DGN community, which is very important to do,” Dement said. “Every single person in our building should feel included and welcomed when they come in, and part of that is recognizing and celebrating what is important to them.”

New Perspectives:

Specifically at DGN, culture week is important because of the demographic of our student body here. Junior Angelina Antonio believes it’s important for students here to gain new information about other cultures.

“It’s important at DGN because we go to a predominately White school, which isn’t something that is bad at all, but having culture week is a great opportunity for those who don’t normally venture outside their own culture to learn and experience something that is different,” Antonio said.  “A more culturally aware school leads to a more socially accepting school. In order to make this happen, having events like culture week, where they can showcase their heritage, is something that is essential”

Sharing in new ways:

It was important to the changemakers to make sure there was a variety of ways for students to get involved and learn about different cultures. Junior Palwasha Ahmad reflected on the amount of different activities students helped produce.

“Many different events were put on throughout the week. One day included students dressing up in their cultural clothing where we saw pieces from South Asia to Jewish garments. Along with that, we had peer dancing lessons where students taught staff and peers different dances from their own backgrounds,” Ahmad said. “The culture fair, which took place on Friday, had students run tables representing different cultures, countries, and religions. Each group had their own unique presentation and treats for everyone which made the event so much fun.” 

Senior Maddie Casey wanted to use this week to branch out and try some new things outside of her own culture. She attended the culture fair to learn more from her peers.

“There were so many different cultures to choose from and I tried to learn a little bit from every table. Students had food, flags, presentations, and tons of other ways of representing their culture,” Casey said. “It was informative and also refreshing to be around new cultures I don’t get to experience all the time.”

Behind the Scenes:

This week took an innovative and hardworking group coming together to bring more cultural awareness to our school. DGN Changemakers spent weeks in advance planning to achieve this.

“We started meeting as a club about a month and a half before culture week started and after that we met every week to discuss plans, events, and what cultures would be represented,” junior Cailyn Meyers said. “Culture Week has been in the works for a couple of years now but due to COVID it was pushed off. It was really cool seeing it finally happen and also exciting knowing that all of our hard work had paid off.” 

The impact:

Whether you were sharing or experiencing cultures, a lot of people felt the impact this week had on many students and staff. Co-sponsor of changemakers, Paula Fernandez, is grateful that culture week will continue annually at DGN.

“Yes, culture week is now a staple in the DGN calendar. Each year we hope to grow in size and impact. We are currently in the process of collecting feedback from students and staff on what we can do for future culture weeks,” Fernandez said. “As a language teacher, learning about culture and sharing one’s culture is integral to my classroom practice. Culture Week allowed for that same work to take place on a much larger scale.”

DGN strives to be an inclusive environment continually, in many more ways other than culture week. Associate Principal of student services Erin Ludwick takes input from students to better the environment at DGN.

“Our student congress, which is a group of students that intentionally tries to bring students from different groups, have always talked about how we need to do a better job having visual representation of our different cultures so that it’s always a presence, not just one week of celebrating,” Ludwick said. “We take that feedback and make it something we are always trying to do better at. I believe there’s always room to grow with that. We always want to be more visible with the uniqueness that makes us a rich building.”