As part of the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum, Hernandez Middle School recently hosted Culture Day to build cultural awareness through student and teacher led activities.
The IB program aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect, according to the organization.
Eighth-grade students in the IB program are required to complete community projects during the year. Students can select any community project that they would like to do for direct service, indirect service, advocacy or research. For the last couple of years, the students have been keen on presenting to the student body through IB days. Culture day included projects from teachers and students including exploring cultural differences through textiles, learning the history and origination of different types of music and exploring different cultural norms and manners.
Eighth-grade student Paloma Groves focused on the culture among students at Hernandez. Her project, “Hands Erasing Differences,” was geared to helping her peers realize that although they are all different and have different life experiences, they can all come together as one to promote Hernandez as a school that accepts and shows respect for all people.
“What I am trying to do with this project is to let everyone know that despite our differences, we can still come together and have a sense of pride for being who we are together as a school,” Paloma said.
Paloma said when she first started middle school, she had a hard time assimilating because her best friend went to a different school and she felt like she had no friends. Her experience of feeling different than everyone else was a precursor for her IB project, she said.
In addition to her presentation, Paloma wanted a physical representation for her project to serve as a reminder to her classmates to celebrate their differences. Each student was encouraged to choose a color of paint to apply to their palms and then place their print on a large mural in the hallway. Students were also asked to complete a sticky note with something they had struggled with or want to work on to foster the Hernandez culture.
“Our handprints on the wall show that everyone is different because we all have a different size hand and a unique hand print. Putting them all together on a piece of paper for everyone to see shows that we can all come together no matter our race, skin color, religion, interests or appearance,” said Groves.
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