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Community members educate and get educated about diversity.

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   Students from Liberty High School often joke about the comparisons between Liberty North High School and Kansas City International Airport (KCI). North’s architectural features, such as high ceilings and the long curved main hallway, are similar to KCI’s. However, North really was looking international as the school shared its building with LHS to host the third annual Diversity festival on November 8.

   The parking lot was comparable to a Liberty vs. Liberty North football or basketball game. Several people made their own parking spots to get closer to the front doors and avoid the snowy weather. With more than 72 different groups hosting either a performance or booth and all the people simply attending, there were easily more than 300 people at the event.

Liberty High School Booths

Walking in, community members were instantly immersed in multiple different cultures. Languages other than English were being spoken freely in the safe and inviting environment as traditional clothes from different cultures were worn with pride. Presenters were ready to teach others the importance of open-mindedness and acceptance through booths, performances and activities.

   Many participants were starting their journey to become more culturally aware. The long curved hallway was home to booths from LHS clubs, including Breakfast Club, Diversity Council and Gay-Straight Alliance. They made pamphlets, presentations and activities to share with the community.

 

Diversity Council created a large sign with the question “Who inspires you?”

   “The question really makes you think about who you respect and look up to in your community, but also what values you hold,” Diversity Council senior officer Makana Brooks said.

Club leaders from Diversity Council pose a thought-provoking question and encourage community members to share their answers on the poster. Photo by Hannah Ollier

Liberty Public Schools Booths

   Middle schoolers from Discovery Middle School and Heritage Middle School hosted a few booths. One booth described the importance of mirror books (books about people similar to the reader) and window books (books that allow the reader to see a different lifestyle or perspective).

   “Some races can only read window books because there aren’t many books about them or their lifestyle. This should change,” seventh-grader Sarai Jack said.

   A group of teachers hosted a booth to answer questions some people are too afraid to ask. Susan Lynn, a Liberty North international language teacher, hosted a booth discussing the importance of hijabs for Muslim women.

   “Students are sometimes leery of me because I wear one every day, so I wanted a chance to explain and educate because no one is comfortable asking me questions about it,” Lynn said.

Liberty North teacher Susan Lynn hosts a booth answering questions about her hijab. Photo by Hannah Ollier

   Members of the LHS Gay-Straight Alliance, soon to be renamed Gender and Sexualities Alliance, were glad to have an opportunity to educate people.

   “I think hosting events like this is really important for our club,” junior member of Gay-Straight Alliance Elliot Lundy said. “We try to get the word out there that these sexualities and identities exist not only in school but throughout the community. A lot of people have misconceptions that we get the opportunity to correct.”

Gay-Straight Alliance club president Elliot Lundy takes a photo with a Liberty North student in front of the LGBTQ+ flag. Photo by Hannah Ollier

Community Booths

   As people traveled further down the hall, they reached the entrance of a few smaller hallways.

   One hallway featured food from other countries and cultures made by Liberty North’s Prostart team. Another hallway had trifold presentations on immigrants, refugees and other minority experiences in the U.S.

   Further down the main hallway, the entrance of the Auxiliary gym welcomed children into the space. This area was divided by country, with simpler presentations and fun activities to teach kids about cultures. Children made paper flowers at the France booth to represent the French perfume industry, traditional Alpine hats at the German booths, and colored skulls at the Mexican booth to learn about Day of the Dead.

Performances

   At the end of the large main hallway was the most crowded area. Five different groups performed throughout the night at a stage that had been set up in the cafeteria. Missouri Western Dance Company, The Studio LDG and Key Polynesia put on dance performances.

A trio from The Studio LDG performs a number inspired by The Purge franchise. Photo by Hannah Ollier

   Missouri Western combined different styles of music to represent different groups of people in their company. “The Greatest Show” from popular movie musical, “The Greatest Showman,” was played intermittently during trap-percussion-flooded rap songs and songs with confidence-boosting lyrics.

   “I think this diversity event is very pertinent because of the time we’re in as a country. I love that the schools are hosting it. It’s so important.” Founding artistic director of the Missouri Western Dance Company, Jordan Alford said.

   B-Rich, a comedian who has been featured on BET, put on a 10-minute comedy performance. His jokes focused on senior citizens struggles with new technology and the privilege of today’s youth.

“I bet you have a bedroom all to yourself,” B-rich said, pointing at a kid in the audience. “Some adults are out here thinking you have too much.”

At the end of the night, a Christian spoken word group, Soulz of Redemption, performed three pieces: “Soulz of Redemption,” “Three Sides of Forgiveness” and “It Wasn’t a Choice.” The pieces had common themes such as the intolerance of our country and coming to terms with identity and sexuality.

One of the Soulz of Redemption speakers, Grant Williams prompted his audience to say at the end of the night, “I am somebody. I can do anything. I am diversity.”

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