The art exhibit features 24 images and 11 languages yet there is one overall message – “We are East.”
Students in Karen Saunder’s Still Photography I course at Lakota East were inspired to do a project at the high school after viewing the work of professional photographer JR and his question: Can art change the world? She tied in the idea with the district’s new Champions for Change initiative, which promotes inclusiveness and academic success for all students.
“The students wanted to show the diverse group of the school’s population, yet also highlight the commonality they share,” explains Saunders. “They felt that the image of holding the ‘We are East’ sign helps reiterate their shared experience while also honoring the rich diversity of cultures.”
Students who spoke and wrote in two (or more) languages were given the option of which they wanted to use. Thus, the overall exhibit boasts a variety of languages, including Punjabi, Spanish, Arabic, Korean, French, American Sign, Ukrainian, Twi Ghanaian dialect, Mandarin, Hindi and English.
“We also wanted to explore the range of students here at East in other ways, so the students selected females and males, all grade levels, and students with disabilities. To them, the goal was to showcase all, knowing that all students here are in accord, that the ‘We Are East’ applies to all,” adds Saunders.
“The exhibit is close to our front door, as a reminder to everyone visiting our building that we embrace inclusiveness and honor differences,” states Lakota East Principal Suzanna Davis. “It is a value we hold and which permeates our culture.”