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The Monarch Times

The Monarch Times

Representing Culture

Mt. Eden High School consisted of 58% Hispanic or Latine, 13% Filipino, 10.5% Asian, 7% African American, 3.7% Pacific Islander, 3.4% White, 3.5% two or more races, and 0.2% American Indian or Alaska Native in the 2022-23 school year. Every school in the Hayward Unified School District (HUSD) has this diversity, with Hayward ranking the third most ethnically diverse in the US.

In this diverse social hub, students could learn about and possibly celebrate a multitude of cultural holidays like Hanukkah, a Jewish, eight day “festival of lights;” Kwanzaa, a celebration of African-American culture; uvas de la suerte, the eating of 12 grapes at the midnight of December 31st; Diwali, a Hindu light festival celebrated to ward off darkness; and the Mid-Autumn Festival, a Chinese harvest festival celebrated with baked mooncakes holding nuts and fruit.

Even with the responsibilities and demands that students have in their lives, research proves that investing time in cultural development and expression has positive outcomes. 

An article by Appalachian State University, a university with the most diverse first-year class in history, found that celebrating culture fosters respect, open-mindedness, and empathy toward other ethnic groups. In their words, understanding people’s cultural background is “crucial to personal and community growth.” 

In school, more ethnic diversity relates to a greater learning experience. According to Oxford Graduate Olivia Spiegler, students and teachers of ethnically diverse schools feel less vulnerable, victimized, and lonely among peers.

“Sharing and contrasting your identities, your languages, and your expressions helps you learn about who you are, where you came from, and generally helps build your character and self-confidence,” said Paul Maciel, Mt. Eden Spanish teacher and Advisor of LatinX club.

“It’s very rare we get an opportunity to share, compare, and celebrate all the different languages and practices around us,” Maciel continued. He said that since English overshadows many different languages, students of a shared ethnic group tend to “stick together.”

Nevertheless, clubs like the Black and African Student Union (BASU) have been working with Principal Monique Walton and other clubs to plan meetings, cookouts, fundraisers, and Black History Presentations to express their culture. Jadyn Edwards, the president of BASU, says they are “very efficient” in these practices. “Students try very hard to [represent themselves], I feel their voices are much louder,” said La’Nya Friday, a member of BASU club and Student Leaders’ of Equality & Anti-racism (SLEA) club. 

Friday said that while students are less afraid to speak their minds, especially in SLEA club, speaking out about certain, sensitive topics is not allowed in MEHS—teachers of the SLEA club worry about getting fired.

If students ever feel like their culture is not represented or want further support for cultural activities at MEHS, students can contact the Site Based Decision-Making Group (SBDM). This committee is co-chaired by Principal Monique Walton and teacher Gary Cao. The body makes decisions about events on campus, allocates funds, and provides student support. Whether through fundraisers, festivals, simple get-togethers, or posters around campus, students are not alone in wanting to represent and express culture in creative and colorful ways.

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About the Contributor
Aiden Jiang
Aiden Jiang, Staff Writer
My name is Aiden Jiang and I am a reporter/writer of The Monarch Times for the 2023-24 school year. I joined The Monarch Times this year and hope to write more personalized and interesting articles. I was born and raised in Hayward and plan to move to some far-away Hawaiian Island, once I get to doing it. I enjoy reading, spending time with family, and playing flashy video games. You can contact me through email or social media; I encourage questions, criticisms, and sometimes compliments.
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