Cultural Representation at Monte Vista


     At Monte Vista, for many students December 25 is Christmas, and April 12 is Easter, and that’s that. But what about those who don’t celebrate these holidays? Cultural and religious representation at Monte Vista is a problem, one that all too often is overlooked. 

     A lack of knowledge about other religious holidays besides Christian ones propped by the media is all too common these days, and for students who find their holidays ignored or simply unknown, this can be a challenge.

     “It’s usually just misinformation or truly not knowing, so I feel like it’s a good thing to talk about consistently,” history teacher Anastasia Chrzanowski said. “I think we could be better, and a lot of schools could be better.”

      Chrzanowski recognizes this problem and feels as though there should be a change on campus and believes this can happen through educating students and evoke their curiosity.

     “We should lead some kids who have never heard of certain holidays or dont understand some of these customs to start asking questions,” Chrzanowski said.

      The cultural inequality surrounding holidays is not just a student issue, but often a teacher and administration one. How often do we see breaks from school for Islamic or Jewish holidays? Almost never, and these students sometimes have to take days off school to celebrate their religion, while balancing the extra work from missing school and not having the day designated to have little or no work. 

     “I don’t think that we are aware, and even as kids are given the opportunity to take any day off for religious purposes,” librarian Julie Garrahan said. “I don’t think teachers are aware of when the Muslim holidays are, or when the Jewish holidays are, so they’re not as considerate when timing their tests or timing their big reviews or things like that.” 

      One place fighting the gap in cultural representation is the Monte Vista library. Garrahan, who has only been at Monte Vista for a year, is already trying to fight the lack of information about different cultures and religions with new and diverse books that encourage students to learn about someone else’s perspective in an interesting and more first hand experience. As the librarian, she is doing what she can to create a change.

     “We applied and were given a grant to work on cultural things, and the last two months we’ve had a collection up there about racial and gender awareness, and we are having a lot more cultural books brought in,” Garrahan said. “This month’s selection all have to do with either Indian or Mulsim culture.” 

     Along with the changes that some teachers are trying to make and are aware that this problem does exist on campus, some students also feel like there is less representation.

     “I think students know of other holidays existing, however they don’t know the in depth traditions of things,” sophomore Katelyn Sun said. “People know there’s Hanukkah, but they don’t know as much as they would about Christmas and Jesus and knowing the traditions of having a Christmas tree.”

      Cultural unawareness is a problem on campus that isn’t very easily recognizable but has an easy solution. With more awareness to the problem, the more awareness the student body has to the different cultures that are being represented through the students themselves.

     “I think cultural unawareness is a problem pretty much everywhere, and Monte Vista is not different in that aspect,” Garrahan said.