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Schuchard Elementary earns community recognition for championing diversity
Schuchard Elementary earns community recognition for championing diversity
Posted on 09/10/2020
Collage of presentation from ethnic celebrationSchuchard Elementary has earned community recognition for – in the words of school staff – just being themselves. 
The school is receiving the annual Diversity Distinction Award, presented by the City of Sterling Heights and the community Ethnic Committee.
The award recognizes the school for its continued efforts to embrace cultural diversity in a community where 85 percent of its families speak two languages.  A centerpiece of the recognition is its first “Cultural Celebration Day” – a schoolwide program held last November that shared information on cultures.
“This award means that our students get to be celebrated for being themselves,” said Schuchard Art Teacher SooMee Lee. “They didn’t have to reach and do something that is difficult to them. Someone has recognized that the way they celebrate – the food they eat, the clothes they wear, the music they like – is ok. They are accepted and they are a standard.”
The school’s “Cultural Celebration Day” brought regional community cultural organizations together with the community to provide information on their students' heritage.
The day was just a small part of the work that Schuchard staff does every day to make the school a role model for cultural awareness and sensitivity, principal Steve Slancik said.
“We are always trying to improve our understanding and knowledge of our community,” Slancik said. “We strive to surpass the idea of tolerance and focus on celebrating and using our diversity to make us a better school.”
Slancik said that Schuchard’s ongoing activities – such as regular use of translators, adapting events around cultural holidays or adjusting food menus – have moved beyond awareness to angiven each an environment where each student is recognized for who they are. 
“We have been living cultural diversity so long that we went past celebrating groups and have narrowed it down to honoring individual students,” he said. 
For Lee, the success of the school’s efforts were underscored with a recent incident where two students has a disagreement over a difference in faith. The disagreement led to a broader conversation of understanding and acceptance.  
“I think the most important thing is the conversation,” she said.  “Our kids are really fearless.”