New Albany News

Diversity committee's mission is to foster unity

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The New Albany-Plain Local School District's new diversity committee is working to create an environment in which the 40 races represented in the school district are united.

"It's a group of motivated people working together to make a change, really exploring and accepting all the differences in New Albany and really celebrating the diverse community we live in," said committee co-chairwoman Janine Winters, a parent in the district.

Winters said the committee first met in October.

"The committee is focused on building upon the concept of diversity here on the New Albany schools campus and beyond into the community," said district spokesman Patrick Gallaway. "The identification of a definition was the first step and second was the development of a symbol that could represent diversity.

"In very broad terms, the diversity committee hopes to expand the discussion of what diversity means to us, why as a community it is important and why we should celebrate it."

The district has defined diversity as "the respect and acceptance of embracing and celebrating differences in culture, religion, ethnicity and race, sexual orientation, disabilities, socio-economic status, gender and family makeup."

"Valuing these differences is what unites us as a community," Gallaway said.

Gallaway said the committee also developed an acronym, CARE, to put the definition in simpler terms: to celebrate, accept, respect and embrace.

The diversity committee includes students, faculty, community members and parents, Winters said.

"It's a very nice cross section of people," she said. "There are probably 20-plus members."

Winters said the most exciting part of the committee is working alongside students.

"Students are learning firsthand what it means to be on a committee; learning to develop an idea, implement actions steps to achieve a specific goal," she said. "For example, New Albany is a diverse community with (more than) 40 different cultures represented. Students are taking the lead to organize seminars that celebrate their culture to share with the rest of the student body."

The diversity committee is a subcommittee of the district's student culture advisory council, which formed in 2012. The district's anti-bullying committee also is a council subcommittee.

The council "is a comprehensive group that serves to unify all interests. Members of the council represent a diverse cross section of both school district and community including; students, parents, administrators, teachers, staff, local business, government, clergy, community, mental health professionals and more," Gallaway said.

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