Celebrating our Culture & Heritage!

BY Catherine O’Leary

Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter School

Project Description
A brand new teacher committee was created this year at the Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter School (CCLCS), called the “Heritage & Culture Committee”. The committee was created out of a staff desire to recognize the diversity among our student body and provide opportunities to celebrate our differences. During this event, families will be invited to come together and share information about their own culture & heritage, as well as learn about others’ customs and traditions. Families will be encouraged to bring food and/or a craft that connects to their cultural celebrations. Students and guardians will also be asked to designate on a world map their countries of origin, so that CCLCS has a visual representation of our diversity. This will be on an interactive scratch map. Families will also be encouraged to color in a world map as an activity. Families will be asked to complete a small index card that inquires about cultural traditions, how they are celebrated and how to say “Happy Holidays” in another relevant language. Finally, we will have a movement activity on a large scale world map that will be spread out on the classroom floor.

How will the project be evaluated (e.g. how will you gauge its success)

Benefit to the students and the school
At a small public school on Cape Cod, students are not often aware of the rich culture that is all around them. This event will provide an opportunity to share a piece of themselves that they might not be able to showcase otherwise. In the middle school years, personal identity is one of, if not the, most important aspect of student life. Peer influence is massive and using our cultural differences can help to unite a diverse, global community and spread the message that “Who you are and where you come from is important to our school; you belong here because you are unique.” In addition to this, the importance of social & emotional learning is on the forefront of education and an integral component of the CCLCS mission statement. The CASEL competencies, which are used and promoted by DESE, include self awareness, social awareness & relationship skills. Included in these competencies are opportunities for recognizing and appreciating diversity, respect for others, relationship building and social engagement. Finally, the semi permanent installation of the scratch map, color map and index cards in our large assembly space will increase student awareness & appreciation for the diversity within our community. The books provided to classroom libraries will promote cultural differences and allow students to make self to text connections through the characters, customs and traditions within the writing.

Timeline of Project (when will you do the project, if applicable)
On-going with the library additions and “Cultural & Heritage Celebration” evening held at our school on December 5th, 2019.