Kamilah ’15 attended an African-American Cultural Exchange (AACE) meeting on Friday Jan. 17 to discuss Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Day, which was to take place the following Monday.
Club members each brought in one note card with a quote by Dr. King. After each member read her quote aloud, co-presidents Lauren ’14 and Kailey ’14 reminded the students to reflect on Dr. King’s legacy on their day off from school.
For many AACE members, including Kamilah, the Friday meeting was the only acknowledgement of the MLK holiday. Students who did not attend the AACE meeting may not have heard any mention of MLK Day at school. While many federal holidays and international observance days such as International Women’s Day are acknowledged in the planner, they often come and go with little recognition within the Marlborough community.
Although affinity groups such as AACE and Organized Latina Exchange (OLE) put on special events in honor of certain cultural holidays, some students note that such efforts only reach those who are already interested in or planning on celebrating the holiday.
“As of now, it is kind of like, the people who want to talk about it find a way to talk about it either with friends or with AACE or something, but the people who most need to hear about it are not really involved,” Kamilah said.
While several holidays which take place at the end of the year including Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah are recognized at Winter Fest, many other important cultural holidays go completely unacknowledged. Many Asian and Asian-American students note that only Chinese classes celebrate the Lunar New Year, while the entire school is aware of Christmas and Rosh Hashanah.
Rachel ’17, whose family recently celebrated the Lunar New Year, is disappointed with the level of attention the holiday received. She said she found it difficult to juggle all of the demands of her school work with her afterschool family obligations.
“We get a lot of no homework nights for some Jewish holidays, but Asian holidays aren’t really noticed even though it might be hard to do all our homework,” she said.
Director of Admissions Jeanette Woo Chitjian said if conversations about these holidays do not take place in the classroom, many students may be completely oblivious to them. However, there are many opportunities for the School to educate the student body on this matter. “I think putting a slide recognizing a holiday and its significance on the digital signage is a great idea. It doesn’t take much energy or effort, except in determining which holidays to include,” Woo Chitjian said.