Two years ago, while brainstorming with my colleagues about how the Lower School could highlight diversity in ways that were impactful, relevant, and understandable to all of our students, we agreed that our Heritage Hall community is comprised of a diverse group of families. Why not spotlight that?
Our goal was to show students that, while each person in the school community is unique in some way, those differences don’t make anyone less of a Charger. If anything, our differences make our community stronger. The culminating idea was to have a Heritage Hall student, patron, or faculty member present a short segment highlighting what makes him or her unique during the Lower School’s weekly Charger Shine assemblies. Thus, the Charger Spotlight initiative with its accompanying vision statement, "We are all different, but we are ONE Charger Family," was born.
Debuting in November 2016, our first Charger Spotlight segment featured Assistant Head of Lower School Jan Bradford and P.E. teacher Robyn Brewster, highlighting their Native American heritage. During their presentation, they recognized other teachers of Native American descent, including Jackie Paulk and Paige Wilson. After all of the teachers shared what tribes they were from, Jan and Robyn went on to explain where their tribes are situated in Oklahoma and taught students a couple of words from their tribes’ native languages. The segment was very well received among students and patrons alike, so much so that we had families requesting to be a part of it.
In January 2017, we kicked off the Charger Spotlight segments with Madhuvanthi Shikaripur (mother of Aadithya Manjunath ’27), who gave a wonderful presentation on the culture and traditional celebrations of India, after which we were treated to a traditional dance from Aadithya and friends. My aunt, Willie Joyce Webb, joined us in February 2017 to speak on Black History Month and the importance of loving one another and embracing our differences. In March 2017, the Abel Family shared information about Scotland and demonstrated a few of their Scottish traditions.
We began the 2017-18 school year by joining with others around the world in celebration of International Day of Peace (Sept. 21) through song, unity, and crafts. This moving and uplifting observance was followed by a lineup of inspiring speakers throughout the year. Michael Gehr '18 delivered an eloquent and compelling speech about Friedreich's Ataxia for National Disability Awareness Month that resonated in many unexpected ways with our young Chargers. For Native American Heritage Month, Trudie Taylor '20 arrived in traditional dress to perform the National Anthem in Sign Language. Willie Joyce Webb returned for Black History Month to expand upon her earlier message about the importance of love.
In April 2018, our fourth graders wrapped up the year of Charger Spotlight segments with presentations they had created for the all-school Unity Day. Their “Many Chargers, One Community”-themed lessons highlighted what community means to them, how living the Charger Code makes our Heritage Hall community special, and how there is unity in “community.