Onalaska High School students learn about equality and diversity

Local News

Wednesday morning every student at Onalaska High School spent time learning about equality and diversity.

The event, Focus on Equality, was a collaboration between the District Equity Committee and the high school Ujima club, a club that focuses on teaching and learning about diversity within the community.

“In this country specifically, there’s so much diversity in sexual orientation, racial, and just age group,” said Jonah Harlan, a sophomore Ujima club member. “We need to learn how to connect with each other.”

The event started with two keynote speakers and then featured 37 breakout sessions on a variety of topics.

Those sessions ranged from American Sign Language, to LGBTQ+ identities, and Hmong Culture.

For one faculty member, he hoped the day would teach students apathy– something he says society often lacks.

“I don’t have to think about race. I don’t have to think about sexuality. I don’t have to think about religion because it’s the majority religion, whatever it might be,” said John Horman, an Onalaska High School Counselor.

This is the first time Onalaska High School has held the event since 2014 and planning has been underway since May.

Both faculty and students say they love that the School District of Onalaska takes time to educate on diversity and equality.

“The administration in this school cares about the students and how they perceive the world and how they can really connect with the community and how they can better understand one another,” said Nieyah Mallory, the Ujima club president.

“I am really proud to work in a district that values spending time on staff and students learning about equity and diversity issues,” Horman said.

With so many sessions to choose from, each student learned something different. However, organizers desire that they all walk away with the same life lesson.

“[This event} hopefully encourages everybody that’s a student and staff member here at Onalaska high school to play whatever role they can in improving that situation and our society,” Horman said.

The Ujima club hopes the event sparks an interest for fellow students and keeps the diversity conversation going.

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