VanGorden Celebrates Diversity

VanGorden’s ‘Team Togetherness’ Helps Celebrate Diversity
Posted on 11/17/2020
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vangorden diversity displaysThe transformation of the VanGorden Elementary lobby is now underway. The school’s new Team Togetherness Committee is overseeing the project that highlights the diversity of its students and staff.

“Our first project was to hang flags in our lobby that represent the countries that our students and staff were born in,” said Principal Julie Engelbert, who serves on the committee. Team Togetherness discovered that the VanGorden family is represented by fourteen unique countries.

“We have had many enthusiastic comments from our students when they saw the flags in our lobby,” said Engelbert. “It has been such a welcome addition to our school! We even had one staff member cry (happy tears) because her home country was represented in our building.”

The flags are just the beginning. The school is also creating a WE are VanGorden wall that highlights the flags and their respective countries, with a world map that will connect all the countries. A slideshow will run on the lobby TV as well, giving information about each country. Each Thursday, the morning announcements will include a “Did you Know” segment with fun abouts about one of the fourteen countries.

As the holidays approach, Engelbert said that the slideshow will include photos illustrating traditions of the school’s students and families. The next phase of the project will involve classrooms adopting the lobby display cases. Classrooms will research a topic on diversity and then work together to help make it come alive in the display. In the future, VanGorden plans to host a multi-cultural event for students and families. 

School counselor Rachel Smith (who serves on the committee as well as the school’s Champions for Change representative) said the mission of the Team Togetherness Committee is to bring both awareness and to celebrate the cultural diversity of the school’s students, families and staff.

“We feel, now more than ever, that our students need to learn about people who are different than them,” said Smith. “We live in a world that is becoming increasingly diverse and we want to make sure we are highlighting and celebrating those differences in our school.”