Technologies are making the world smaller by bringing people together, and it’s more important than ever for students to learn about other cultures that exist outside their own neighborhoods. To help students have those experiences, Stephanie Taylor has created the Portsmouth High School Multicultural Club.
Taylor is an intervention specialist at Portsmouth High School and said the idea for the club began when she was working on inclusion in junior high, and some of the Black History Month activities that she had created. It was so successful, she said, one of the teachers suggested creating a club to focus on multicultural studies and awareness.
“Initially, we would focus on whatever month it is – if it’s Black History Month or Women’s History Month, for example,” Taylor said. “The Multicultural Club is open to any student in the high school. We have students that are representative of many cultures, which is great, but anyone is able to come in.”
The program was awarded a grant several years ago which helps pay for student field trips to the history museum and art museum in Cincinnati. This year she hopes to take students on field trips to the Afro-American Art Museum and the Wilberforce University HBCU near Dayton.
Taylor said she’d also like to take students to the John Rankin House and the John Parker House, which are both in Ripley, Ohio. The John Rankin House was home to the abolitionist and Presbyterian minister, along with his wife Jean, and their 13 children. It’s estimated that over 2,000 slaves seeking freedom stayed with the Rankins. The John Parker House, which has been designated a National Historic Landmark, is where Parker, a former slave, planned many rescue attempts of slaves held captive in Kentucky.
“I’ve asked local people to come in and speak to the kids. We’ve done Irish Heritage Month with Cirque d’Art and they taught us how to dance an Irish dance. We also did some cooking for Hispanic Heritage Month,” Taylor said.
Later this year, students from the club will host a Multicultural Fair for Portsmouth High School.
“When they leave here they have to be able to interact with other people. Coming from Cincinnati we had so many different cultures and different religions. We were constantly interacting with them, and it made me a more open person, and my family too. It’s been beneficial to me because I’ve made friends with people from all different places,” Taylor said.
For more information about Portsmouth City Schools, visit them online at www.portsmouthtrojans.net, or follow the school’s page on Facebook.