Chapin Celebrates Heritage Months

Chapin Celebrates Heritage Months

During the months of April and May, Chapin students from Kindergarten through Class 12 have been learning more about and celebrating Arab American, Asian American/Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (AANHPI), and Jewish American Heritage Months.

During the month of April (Arab American Heritage Month), students engaged in special activities to honor Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the month-long fast of Ramadan. Kindergarten students made lanterns with plastic bottles, Class 1 students made paper lanterns, Class 2 created mehndi patterns using stencils and, in Class 3, students made Eidi envelopes. Class 2 students also had the opportunity to present to their peers about how they celebrate Eid al-Fitr with their family.

Throughout the month, Lower School students learned about different Arab American individuals and their vast contributions to various fields. In Middle School, a special slide presentation was created to highlight all Arab countries and also famous Arab Americans, which teachers shared during Advisory or in their classes.

On April 11, the Upper School Muslim Student Association led a celebration of Eid al-Fitr in the Commons, which included samosas, crafts and music. The following week, the US Middle Eastern student affinity group delivered an informative presentation during an US Assembly about Arab American Heritage Month and also organized a half tag day, during which all students were invited to wear a green, red or white top.

In honor of the Jewish holiday of Passover, which began on April 22, our US Jewish student affinity group, MENSCH, collaborated with the Food Services team to serve a variety of traditional Passover foods including matzo ball soup, gefilte fish with horseradish and Passover-friendly desserts. In Lower School, Kindergarten students made their own Seder plates out of clay, Class 1 students made an Afikoman bag, Class 2 made pop art signs and Class 3 made tambourines.

The month of May commenced AANHPI and Jewish American Heritage Month. In their discussions about the many facets of Judaism, Lower School students took part in read-alouds with books from our library collection that included “A Synagogue Just Like Home” by Alice B. McGinty, “A Persian Passover” by Etan Basseri, and “How the Rosh Hashanah Challah Became Round” by Sylvia B. Epstein. The girls also learned about many notable Jewish people, such as Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, composer and musician Irving Berlin, and biomedical scientist (and inventor of the first polio vaccine) Dr. Jonas Salk.

Similarly, the students learned about different regions in Asia, Hawaii and the Pacific Islands, the history and origin of AANHPI Heritage Month, and the many contributions Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders have made to the United States and the world.

Additionally, throughout the month members of MENSCH read special stories to our LS students. As well, one Class 11 student read her original story about Patsy Mink, the first woman of color elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and the first Asian American woman to serve in Congress.

The month culminated with a division-wide LS Assembly that featured a performance by Mr. Wang (MS/US Chinese teacher), the third installment of “Habla with Pride” (Class 3’s podcast during which they interviewed professional community members of Asian heritage) and trivia.

The May 6 Middle School Community Share featured several student presentations, including one on J-pop, C-pop and K-pop and another on Stephen Sondheim, a Jewish American composer and lyricist.

In Class 6 Advisory, students read and discussed the poem “Never Shall I Forget” by Elie Wiesel. They engaged in conversations about the Holocaust, shared family stories about its impact and discussed why we must always learn from the past. Students in Class 6 also began a correspondence project with 7th and 8th grade students at a Hand in Hand school in Haifa, Israel. Hand in Hand’s mission is to build partnership and equality between Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel. Students will have an opportunity to learn Hebrew and Arabic from their new pen pals, and more importantly, to make connections with peers around the world.

In Class 5, students completed their “My Story, Our Story” project. The students began by reading stories from Jewish children memorialized in the Tenement Museum to analyze the power of storytelling. Next, they were tasked with interviewing a family member about an object – related to their own identity, immigration or cultural heritage – that is meaningful to them. Students wrote their own moving stories, complete with a photo of the object, which were displayed outside of the Library. A few treasured objects included a preschool menorah, a first communion dress, a Najeon Chilgi (a Korean jewelry box), dim sum and a great-grandmother’s silver necklace.

Upper School welcomed Naomi Ravick to US News on Tuesday, May 2. Ms. Ravick is the Director of Operations for the Alexander Young Leadership Department at the American Jewish Committee (AJC), a worldwide advocacy and education organization for the Jewish people.

Ms. Ravick spoke candidly about the Holocaust, concentration camps and antisemitism. She stressed the importance of continually acknowledging the atrocities of the past so we can build a better present and future. Ms. Ravick said we can raise awareness, take action and support Jewish life in and out of school. “Use your voices – they’re so powerful. People want to hear from you.” Most importantly, she added, is “to fight against all hatred – antisemitism, racism, Islamophobia – it does not happen in a vacuum.” Later that afternoon, Class 6 and 7 students were invited to join a special lunch with MENSCH and Ms. Ravick.

MENSCH commemorated Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, on Monday, May 6, with their annual flameless candle booth. A time to honor and remember the victims, the students created a slideshow to highlight the ancestral experiences of the Chapin Jewish community in a meaningful and personal way.

In their email to the entire US, our MENSCH leaders noted, “Yom HaShoah is just one day. A day of recognition for each Jewish victim of the Holocaust would take well over 16,000 years. With this statistic in mind, we hope everyone will take time on Yom HaShoah to bring light to all victims of the Holocaust, so, together, we can truly never forget.”

Upper School honored AANHPI Month with a student-led, division-wide Assembly on Friday, May 10. Our US Asian student affinity group also sponsored a cultural clothing tag day, created a presentation of notable Asian people to display in the US Commons and worked with our Food Services team to offer special celebratory lunches throughout the month.

Students in Advanced Chinese V honored AANHPI Month by presenting their final capstone projects about outstanding Asian Americans during their last classes of the year. Their teacher, Mr. Wang, remarked, “I'm overjoyed to see them making connections and exploring Chinese language and Asian cultures.”