Skip to content

Simpson celebrates peace and diversity

As traditional drums and cymbals clash and bang, two sleeping Chinese lions wake up, clean their paws and start foraging for food at Sir George Simpson. About 260 wide-eyed students sit cross-legged on the gym floor completely enthralled.

As traditional drums and cymbals clash and bang, two sleeping Chinese lions wake up, clean their paws and start foraging for food at Sir George Simpson.

About 260 wide-eyed students sit cross-legged on the gym floor completely enthralled. Just as the lion dance reaches a climax, there’s a burst of “oohs” and “aahs” at the sight of a precocious baby lion running in to scavenge for his fair share of grub.

The junior high school celebrated its first ever Peace and Diversity Day on Thursday, March 25 and it kicked-started with several cultural presentations.

Half the students were transfixed watching Métis Jiggers, South Asian dancer Clairissa Schram and a marital arts presentation by Jing Ying Martial Arts Association.

The other half was ensconced in the school’s lunch room listening to keynote speaker Troy Taylor from Inner City Youth downplay materialism and promote a greater sharing of resources.

After the two main events, all students attended two breakout sessions they had signed up for out of a total of 18. The assortment ranged from tie dying, kimono dress-up, orchid diversity and hip hop yoga to sign language, karate, card making and human rights role-playing.

While some students saw the day as an escape from class, others such as Grade 7 student Erin Spiller had a more open viewpoint. She signed on for henna art and was painting a geometric design on her hand. “I’ve never heard of henna before. I wanted to try it. It’s awesome.”

School counsellor Diane Wolansky was one of the driving forces behind this project. She explained it was developed as an offshoot of the social justice committee. Composed of about 20 students and five teachers, they raised $10,000 last year, enough to build a one-room school in Sierra Leone through Free the Children.

This year students decided to concentrate on water and human rights issues among other things. “It’s not that it’s cool to care. It’s become important to care. There is a huge shift in thinking. They really do care about the planet,” says Wolansky.

When the idea of a peace cultural celebration was broached, the social justice students jumped on it. “There are not a lot of diverse cultures in St. Albert and so we thought we would bring them here.”

Once they started brainstorming, students created a peace chain, with full school participation, and it now hangs in the lunchroom. Cultural diversity was evidenced with Japanese origami, Chinese calligraphy, Indian cuisine and Ukrainian Easter egg decorating.

Perhaps one of the most impressive sessions was led by Ă©cole Secondaire St. Marguerite d’Youville student Quetzala Carson, 17. The inspirational Grade 12 student led a motivational session that encouraged and empowered students to take action in every day life.

During a tie dying session, Grade 8 student Kaitlyn Hunder from the social justice committee commented, “I hope it raises awareness that we need to care and respect each other, but still have fun.”


Anna Borowiecki

About the Author: Anna Borowiecki

Read more



Comments