Jordan High students embrace diversity, support through #DigDiversity project
Aug 29, 2017 03:53PM
● By Jana Klopsch
Jordan High’s Diggers for Change Club hope to bring a positive change in their school culture. (Shannon Callister/Jordan High)
With a change of boundaries this fall, Jordan High is expected to have a greater diversity of students, including refugees.
That, according to English and social studies teacher Shannon Callister, helped to build the momentum to make the school welcoming to the new students.
“We wanted to make sure the refugee students knew they had an inviting, safe place at Jordan High,” she said.
The movement began last spring as teachers Suzanne McDougal, Mallory Record, Thomas Sawyer, Alaina Stone, Cozette Baddley, Holly Saunders and Tiffany Parry talked together with Callister. The result was creating the #DigDiversity project to improve school culture.
“We started by posting hearts around the entire school with the message ‘Jordan High loves you’ in several different languages. We want to make sure everyone feels welcome,” Callister said.
Every student also received candy with a logo that reads, “Jordan High’s Heart Beets for All Students,” taking a twist on heartbeat since the school mascot is the Beetdiggers.
The Changing Herstory Club jumped on board along with the student body officers and created T-shirts and sweatshirts with the same logo on the front and #DigDiversity with “JHS welcomes you” repeated in several languages on the back. These were sold to students and faculty alike.
“The shirts convey a positive message about our diverse population at our school. We wanted our students to realize that helping people is more than just expressing compassion or wearing a color or ribbon; instead, we need to take the next step, be active and actually do something,” she said.
Callister said profits of the initial 300 shirts from the sale went to the International Rescue Committee.
“They help refugees find the right hands to help them and other people around the world,” she said.
As a result, the Changing Herstory Club has undergone a transformation to become Diggers for Change, inviting all students to help bring a positive change in their school culture.
“They are wanting a better environment for the school and have welcomed everyone. They’ve identified bullying, race, gender, suicide, depression and other areas to bring about a positive change. They’re a service group of go-getters who want to show compassion and understanding,” she said.
The desire to support all students runs deep as new Jordan High Principal Wendy Dau, who has been principal at Midvale Middle, leads the school this fall.
“I’ve loved the diversity at Midvale Middle School and with the (new school) boundary changes, Jordan will become more that way,” she said. “I love how involved and welcoming some of our groups already are, but I know there’s a lot of work we can do to help with the transition, especially in supporting refugee families. We can see what is working at other schools and see what we can do to welcome everyone at Jordan.”
For more than one year, Spanish-speaking parents have been invited to attend Puertas Abiertas or open-door meetings with Assistant Principal Roberto Jimenez to learn more about Jordan High.
“We held the meeting as a way for these parents to become familiar with the school, its resources and key people for them to talk to about their students’ classes,” Jimenez said. “We had a low number of Spanish-speaking parents contact the school, attend parent-teacher conferences, ask for counselors or become involved. We realized there was a language and culture barrier, so we decided to hold meetings for them.”
Dau would like to extend that outreach to even more families this year.
In the meantime, students now are making the change within the classroom culture, welcoming students from Polynesia, Europe, Russia, Africa, South America, Latin America and other regions around the world to attend the school.
“We are becoming more multicultural and it’s been fun to see students get excited with this project,” Callister said. “We’re making a change and already it feels different. We’re celebrating as we #DigDiversity.”