Baha'i News -- At Barrington High diversity, culture are colorblind
At Barrington High diversity, culture are colorblind
With nearly a 86 percent Caucasian student body - 25 percent more than the state average - Barrington
Unit District 220 isn't usually the first place that comes to mind when the term "melting pot" is used.
However, Barrington High School's multicultural club makes the school district seem like a miniature
About dozen regular club members meet weekly to practice for and plan the events that bring some of the
district's diversity to the forefront of students' minds.
In late February, a throng of students went on one of their many visits to the Bahai Temple in Wilmette.
Students visit the temple as many as three times a year to have panel discussions on the importance of
In the fall, students from the club put on a multicultural fashion show. A master of ceremonies
introduces the various countries represented in the student body and then those students model
traditional garb or other outfits native to their homelands.
In the past, saree from India, Mexican wedding dresses, martial arts performed to music, Philippine
courtship dancing and classic German dress have been on display.
"We're trying to help students understand how important it is to interact with others no matter what
race, religion or creed they may be," said Tyrone Nelson, one of the faculty sponsors of the group.
"People need to know that cultural diversity exists and it's important to respect that. Because one day
we may need somebody who is of a different race or culture and the way you've treated that person impacts
the way they will respond."
Coming in April, the Dalai Lama monks will make a stop at the high school as one of the few Midwestern
stops of their North American tour. The students of the multicultural club, instrumental in bringing the
monks to the school, will be rewarded with the performance of a ceremony and a display of chanting,
singing and music.
Julie Salk, another faculty member with the club, said that although the overall population of the school
may not be that ethnically diverse, the students that are play the largest role in educating the rest of
the students about diversity and togetherness.
"The students that are into this are very passionate," Salk said. "They are really embedded in their
Salk said that she's noticed multicultural fashion has become a bit of a trendy look among kids at the
school, which shows just how much acceptance and understanding the multicultural club has brought to the
Nelson said by eating the different ethnic foods the students bring in for the weekly meetings and by
participating in panel discussions about topics such as racial profiling and the ethnic beliefs that
surrounded the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, students become immersed in other beliefs that open their eyes
to the wants and needs all humans have regardless of their beliefs.
In the future, the club plans to invite other schools to participate in its discussions to provide an
even wider range of viewpoints and encompass cultures that may be represented at other schools.
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