Sycamore Calendar Diversifies


Aaditi Lele

NEW SYCAMORE CALENDAR. The new Sycamore Calendar features a greater diversity of cultural and religious holidays. 

Have you ever picked up a calendar or planner just to see that none of the holidays you celebrate are even included?

For families and students belonging to diverse cultures, this experience is no rarity. In fact, many mass-produced calendars or even the ones on our phones fail to include both religious and cultural holidays from a variety of cultures. While many schools, businesses, and organizations have followed this status quo, Sycamore Schools took the next step to highlight its diverse student body by including celebrations from a variety of cultures. 

While a calendar may seem like a simple step, it was no small task. According to Mallory Bonbright, this decision came from a unique task force at Sycamore: the Culturally Responsiveness Practices Team (CRP). The group is comprised of staff, administrators, and even Sycamore families, each of which focuses on the inclusivity of an increasingly diverse population at Sycamore Schools.

Hoping to further incorporate cultural diversity into Sycamore, the team “realized that there was an increased need to ensure every student succeeds regardless of their differences,” Bonbright said. 

Throughout the last year, the CRP team tediously collected information on a variety of cultural events for the calendar; then, they determined which events had the most significant impact on a student’s daily schedules or had the potential to impact learning, said Bonbright.

So, what exactly was the goal of these changes? To facilitate communication between students, staff, teachers, and families about the observation of these events. 

In just a few short months, Sycamore staff is already reaping the benefits of the updated calendar. Bonbright, who also serves as Sycamore Schools Public Relations Director, shared experience with utilizing the calendar to plan events for the district herself. Scheduling Master Facility Plan events, Bonbright explained she was able to use the calendar to avoid planning an event on October 9, Yom Kippur.

One day before Rosh Hashanah, Principal Doug Mader used the new calendar to remind teachers and administrators to “be flexible” and hold “no expectations” of students on the religious holiday. Mader went on to add “We have a very diverse school and we aim to appreciate and respect people from all backgrounds.” It is evident that the new calendar has already begun to meet its purpose. 

According to a Harvard Business Review study analyzing the effectiveness of diversity programs, researchers found that the key to diversity is everyday practice. So, not only can small steps like an inclusive calendar make communications between staff and students more effective, they can increase awareness. Steps like these, which “spark engagement” and “increase contact among different groups” are exactly what the Harvard study emphasizes as the key to diversity in any environment. 

As Sycamore takes action towards diversity and inclusion, a calendar with many culturally diverse events created by the CRP  is already making strides to increase awareness, make communication with teachers easier, and celebrate Sycamore’s one-of-a-kind student body