This school year Explore Middle School is excited to announce their first-ever Council on Diversity. The club is led by Explore’s Academic Coach and 8th Grade Language Arts teacher, Ms. Justine Franco. The council includes 7th grader Olivia Haberman and 6th graders Charlee Meyer, Madison Estrella, Lori Kim, and Noelle Dilworth.
The council focuses on expanding the dialogue about diversity, inclusion, and equity in order to best support all members of the Explore community. The Council also strives to promote the representatives of the student body, faculty, and staff. Lastly, the council prioritizes working with other schools and district-wide clubs and organizations in order to promote and coordinate school-wide participation in diversity and inclusion efforts.
To achieve these goals, one of the council’s first activities was to honor Native American Heritage Month. The Council on Diversity celebrated the Munsee Lenape Tribe and the Lenape Legend, The Rainbow Crow. Because Explore Middle School sits on the land of the Munsee Lenape Tribe, Council Members chose to celebrate and honor the tribe. The students and Ms. Franco shared facts about the tribe, listened to the legend of The Rainbow Crow, and discussed the symbolism and message behind the story. Afterward, students came together to create their own Rainbow Crow in honor of New Jersey Lenape Chiefs, Chief Mehocksett and Chief Nutimus.
Council member Olivia Haberman reflected on the activity, “It was interesting and fun! It was also a great way to learn about Native American culture.”
Ms. Franco shared her thoughts on the students’ work, “At our October meeting while discussing Native American History Month, I mentioned wanting to learn more about the native land my home is on. The students took that and ran with it. They created the entire activity on the Munsee Lenape tribe and I am so proud of them. I look forward to our next meeting to see what the council members would like to do next to engage their peers and the school community.”