Celebrating diversity

On Monday, South will explore the North African and Middle Eastern traditions


Melissa Gebhard

Sophomores Shafwa Budiman, Amna Iqbal and junior Sonia Akbani help to serve food during the last Culture Day.

Students in PREPS are starting to host “culture days” every few months during Ac. Lab in Gym A to celebrate the many different cultures here at South.

“Culture Day was started by students involved in PREPS [Patriot Representatives] and the Leadership class to embrace the diversity among South students and to represent cultures that aren’t always represented,” said English teacher Melissa Gebhard. 

Everyone is welcome to come, and can sign up by requesting Melissa Gebhard in Responsive Scheduling on Infinite Campus. 

The next Culture Day will be Monday and will represent North African and Middle Eastern cultures. It will be in Gym A and last for mods 2 and 3 of Ac. Lab. There will be food to try, presentations and dances to watch, and games and henna to participate in. This Culture Day was originally supposed to be in December, but was pushed back to January for more planning. It had to be rescheduled two more times because of the snow days we’ve had.

“Culture Day is a day where we want to represent a specific culture, like this month is the Middle East and North Africa. Sometimes it’s regions, sometimes it’s countries, depending on the population,” sophomore Nemat Shaikh said. “The last Culture Day represented India and Pakistan and was very similar to the upcoming one. There were dances, presentations, food, and games.”

Shaikh is one of the main people running Culture Day along with sophomore Amna Iqbal. 

“We really want everyone to feel welcomed at South High, especially since it’s a diverse school,” Iqbal said. “Our goal is to make everyone feel confident and try to enhance and embrace their culture.” 

English teacher Melissa Gebhard is the adult in charge of running Culture Day, along with Assistant Principal Eric Wilhelm. 

“It’s student-led, they are the ones initiating it, reaching out, and involving students from various cultures and backgrounds to present,” Gebhard said. “It is PREPS students, but they’ve also reached out to other students who are not in PREPS but might be good resources.”

Sophomore Jaydin Malone is not a member of PREPS but helped with the first Culture Day on Sept. 30. 

“This is something new and different that we’ve never had before,” Malone said about why it’s important to have culture days at South. “There will be raffles and prizes that you can win too.”

The raffle tickets from the last Culture Day were used to raise money to help with the flooding in Pakistan. There will not be a raffle at the Culture Day on Monday.

“I hope people will be more respectful of other people’s cultures and learn more about them,” Malone said.

Shaikh thought culture day is very important and will bring light to cultures not normally talked about at South.

“I think it’s really important since we have a lot of Americans, foreign exchange students, and a lot of people with cultural backgrounds so I feel like we should represent all of the cultures that we have here at South, especially since we don’t see a lot of cultural representation already,” Shaikh said. 

Gebhard thought the last culture day went well and the next one will be even better. 

“The first one was great. We were really empowering the students and they took the lead, I had very little involvement,” Gebhard said. “For our first time out it was a big success, there was a very big turnout.”

“It’s really important to connect and build empathy and understanding for all the diverse backgrounds at South High,” Gebhard said about the importance of culture day and what she hopes the students take away. 

Culture day is a great way to be introduced to other cultures while having fun and getting to participate in activities. The next culture day is coming up this Monday and the members of PREPS encourage everyone to sign up!