Schalm Elementary School second graders display their passport stamps during Clawson Public Schools’ inaugural Diversity Day April 22.

Schalm Elementary School second graders display their passport stamps during Clawson Public Schools’ inaugural Diversity Day April 22.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Clawson Public Schools hosts inaugural Diversity Day

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published May 11, 2022


CLAWSON — On April 22, Clawson Public Schools held its first Diversity Day.

Seventy students from Clawson High School and Clawson Middle School volunteered to prepare 23 informational country display booths for Schalm Elementary School and Kenwood Elementary School students.

Elementary students had the opportunity to visit each display, get their “passports” stamped, ask questions and learn more about many of the countries that represent the backgrounds of students in the district.

The older students included photos; information about each country, including the flag, currency, capital, customs, holidays, climate, current events and sports; and artifacts, such as toys, games, food items and plants.

The featured countries included Albania, Bosnia, Brazil, Canada, China, El Salvador, France, Hungary, India, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Uganda and Ukraine.

The event was the brainchild of middle school English language arts teacher Michelle Haight and high school math teacher Dorian Hackney. The duo also formed the Diversity Inclusion Belonging Team three years ago.

Hackney said that they hope to expand and improve diversity, equity and inclusion in the district with the team, which currently meets monthly and consists of staff members but will soon be expanded to students.

She said the pair started recruiting students from student organizations they lead about a month prior to the event and had them work in groups. Hackney advises the student council, and Haight advises the Mustang Leadership Council and Students Taking Action Together Club.

The hours that students spent on the project after school went toward community service hours required by the district.

“It was awesome. I was really impressed with the amount of questions (the elementary students) were asking and their interest in certain things,” Hackney said. “They had a great time and it turned out really well. Everything went according to plan, and we’ll definitely plan to do something again next year.”

She said she would like to expand the event to include parents and the community, as well as bring more cultural elements, such as attire and food, to the event.

Haight said it was important for her and Hackney to establish the Diversity Inclusion Belonging Team.

“It means everyone not only has a seat at the table but also a voice that is important to be heard,” she said. “We’re striving for all students to have a sense of belonging, whether that’s celebrating their background or providing them an opportunity to learn about backgrounds that are different from theirs.”

She said Diversity Day was heartwarming to witness, with the high school and middle school students walking from their buildings to the elementary schools and having the opportunity to bond outside the classroom.

“It was thoroughly inclusive, bringing students from all four of our buildings together, including students who receive special education or are part of the autism spectrum disorder program,” Haight said. “It was also a great opportunity for our students to meet new people.”

She added that she and Hackney worked to include students who “aren’t natural leaders” to participate and feel that they can “really make a difference.”

“I was impressed with my students and how much they learned about their country they were showcasing and shared with the younger children,” she said. “It was so cute to see them in those leadership roles where they were teaching the elementary kids.”

Haight said she looks forward to future events that celebrate the district’s diversity.