Diversity Day: Building a New Tradition at NAHS


Jon'nette Kidd, Copy Editor

Diversity Day allowed students to come together and get educated about the different cultures that surround them on a daily basis.  In the morning, visitors were met Spanish music, tables decorated with colorful tablecloths and peppermints, and a breakfast stand piled high with bagels, croissants, and muffins. There was a general feel of ease and acceptance throughout the cafeteria.

Taking place this past Saturday at Norristown Area High School, the second annual event was hosted by UNIDAD sponsors Jen Shahin and Lorena Torres.

Around 10:30, all the visitors filed inside the auditorium for Ed Roth, principal, to give an opening speech, giving his best regards to all of the attendees, but the audience was restless, excited to finally visit the workshops they’d been waiting to attend. Organizations like the Laurel House and Young Scholars and personal speakers like Teresa Maebori and Dr. Zakia Meyers gave morning presentations.

Young Scholars gave an interactive presentation on gender identity, the struggles women face, and the complexity regarding the differences between men and women and cisgendered heterosexual people and LGBTQ+. The members of the group introduced their points by powerpoint slide and asked questions based on the points on the board. People in attendance were asked to talk with the people around them about topics provided by Young Scholars in order to gauge every attendee’s point of view.

Nichole Mitchell, guidance counselor, ran an introspective workshop about college, and how colleges may accept you. She presented many tricks and hacks for both parents and students to utilize during the college application process.

By lunchtime, Diversity Day had drawn a quite a crowd. The food-tables were adorned with Hispanic and African food, from tamales to beef patties. Lunch was joyous, and nearly everyone had a cup of Agua de Jamaica (also known as Hibiscus water). The people who tried out for Norristown’s basketball team quickly trickled in once they caught wind of the food, and while some stayed when lunch was over – most did not.

Around one o’clock, people began to make their way to the afternoon workshops they signed up for.

Jon’nette Kidd
Members of the Black Student Union stand in unison in a workshop about race.

The Black Student Union gave an interactive presentation, while John Doyle, teacher, presented on white privilege in America. The BSU did a workshop about the stereotypes and misfortunes African-Americans (or black people in general) have faced by placing the attendees in hypothetical real life situations.

The people in attendance were at first confused by this approach, but as the hour went by, the visitors warmed up to the workshop and started to enjoy it. Not many people outside the black community know the true things that black people experience, but by placing people of different races in situations black people were placed in (or are continually being placed in), it makes them see the black experience in an entirely different light.

After afternoon presentations, the highlight of the day was revealed. The NAHS drumline gave a loud and boisterous performance before the NHS Step Team jumped in, full of energy. By this point, the crowd full of both parents and students alike was alight with energy.

After the school teams, performers inside our community took the stage. Kenya Vaun and Joey Crakk gave an a cappella performance of their original song, “N.B.A (National Black Anthem)”, which had most people in the crowd nodding along to the rhythm of the song.

Thaddeus Peay of Bowie State University gave an energetic drum performance, where he showed his talent of percussion and made the audience cheer and rave. He has always been a symbol of excellence since he graduated from the high and continuously makes high school visits when he’s on break.

“It’s important that I perform here [at Diversity Day, NHS],” Peay says, “because Norristown means a lot to me…It taught me strength and is a home to me.”

The next performer were Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Inc. from West Chester University, who strolled across across the stage to popular songs, that made the crowd go wild for the girls.

Jon’nette Kidd
The NAHS drumline performs to celebrate Diversity Day.

“I heard about Diversity Day from UNIDAD when they attended a Latino Communities Conference and told us about it,” one of the sorority sisters said. “I was immediately interested since I worked at the admin building down the street from the high, so I told my sisters and they also thought it was a great idea to support such an activity.”

The last performer, Norristown alumnus Cordelia Arcay, enraptured the audience with a belly dancing performance that caught the attention of everyone in the auditorium. The crowd was in shock at the moves of the dancer as she strut across the stage. 

When asked why she decided to dance at Diversity Day, she said, “Belly dancing has always been associated with inappropriateness, so I hope that after seeing my performance that if they want to know more about what I do, they’ll [look it up online].”

She spoke about how belly dancing comes from a lot of different cultures, particularly those India and the Middle East, and is sacred to their ancient people. Therefore, the perception of belly dancing as taboo harms the image the dance may have to people of said cultures.

Many considered this year’s Diversity Day to be even more successful than the first run of the event last year.

“Our hard work definitely paid off,” said student organizer Ruby Herrera. “We were more organized, the food was delicious, the entertainment was great, and the diverse presenters were so interesting.”

Although it is young, Diversity Day is establishing itself as a Norristown tradition.  It celebrates one of the community’s most defining characteristics and actively addresses some of the most important issues the country as a whole is facing today.