Sandy Spring Friends School



OIEJB Honors AAPI Month 2024

OIEJB Honors AAPI Month 2024

Throughout May, the OIEJB celebrates AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) Heritage Month and honors the contributions of people of Asian descent to American life and culture. The U.S. Census Bureau classifies people of Asian descent as “having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent,” including, but not limited to China, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Korea, India, Cambodia, Vietnam or the Philippines. Pacific Islanders are people who descended from the islands of Polynesia, Micronesia, and Melanesia. This classification includes, but is not limited to people from Native Hawaii, Samoa, Tahiti, Guam, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea.

Below, please read about the classroom, advisory, and all-school activities at SSFS in May 2024 that honored the AAPI community.

Lower School
Teachers grounded themselves in reading more about contemporary issues facing the AAPI community with the article titled Dear Educators, It Is Time to Fight for Asian America by Wayne Au and Moé Yonamine. It was written in 2021 during the spike of Anti-Asian Hate brought on by the coronavirus. 

Resources were provided that covered a range of different AAPI identities in order to better represent the vast diversity within the community. Teachers aimed to share stories from East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands. They were mindful of how these racial and ethnic identities intersect with other aspects of the identity molecule (gender, sexuality, socioeconomic status, religion, age, etc.) Educator resources, book lists, video read-aloud, lesson plans, virtual galleries, field trips, and more were shared.

5th graders led the Community Art Project with a study and activity on Ruth Asawa. Ruth Asawa was a Japanese American artist. She survived the US internment of Japanese Americans during WWII. Despite that, she became a renowned artist using wire sculptures that blended natural and organic forms. Students learned more about Japanese culture and the impact Japanese Americans have had on US history. They then created hanging sculptures reminiscent of Asawa's style.

Middle School
Celebrating AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) Heritage Month provides a wonderful opportunity to honor and learn about the rich cultures, histories, and contributions of the AAPI community. In May we incorporated trivia into Advisory lessons, offering a fun and educational way to explore significant milestones and figures in AAPI history. Reading books by Asian authors were made available to help broaden students' perspectives and foster a deeper appreciation for the diversity within the AAPI community. A dedicated bulletin board showcasing the accomplishments of Asians in various fields, from science to the arts was placed in our Collection space to help inspire and educate the school community. Additionally,  a list of local events celebrating AAPI Heritage Month was compiled and shared to encourage participation in cultural festivities and to support community engagement. Teachers were provided with a variety of resources to use in their classrooms ensuring that the celebration of AAPI heritage is integrated across the curriculum, promoting inclusivity and awareness throughout the month.

Upper School
Following the student-centered model of celebration, the display of 9th-grader Kevin Mao’s artwork on the 3rd floor or Pen Y Bryn coincided nicely with Asian American/Pacific Islander Heritage Month. In addition, Upper School History Teacher Allison Chang and the AAPI Student Affinity Group collaborated on an Advisory Quiz that featured challenging trivia questions about Asian and Pacific Islander culture, foods, and traditions.

In addition to Kevin’s artwork, the Upper School's celebration of AAPI Month also featured artwork by students in the Atrium and a map in the 3rd Floor Common Area that invited students to place pins on the country of their origin or cultural background.

May is also Jewish-American Heritage Month; members of the Upper School Jewish Student Affinity Group marked the month by creating a slide deck celebrating Jewish culture and celebrities. The slide deck played on screens in the Upper School, Hartshorne, the Athletic Center, and the PAC.

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