Holiday inclusivity at OHS


Carolyn Gilman

Getting ready for band’s Secret Santa gift exchange.

With the holidays rapidly approaching, Olympia High School staff and students have been showing their holiday cheer through decorations, music, and festive spirit. But with these actions, the question arises; Is OHS being holiday-inclusive during these times?

Marie Rubin, OHS English Language Development/Art teacher and advisor of the International Cultures Club, shared her insight. “It is hard to see, but I know for a fact that we have administration … that preoccupy themselves with this question all the time,” she remarked.

Rubin explained through her own experiences that “when one does not see one’s culture represented, it sometimes can feel like you don’t exist, and not understanding the cultural traditions in your new country can be disorienting.”

In response to the question of inclusivity at OHS, Gio Sobrinho, a sophomore, stated homerooms bring needed attention to this subject. “To show people that it needs to be talked about, and that they’re making the effort to make sure it gets talked about,” is important to Sobrinho as a student.

Sobrinho continued, “I know a lot of people that get judged by others who don’t celebrate different religions and different cultures, and I think that happens because people don’t talk about the different cultures that much, but they should be talked about more.”

In agreement with Sobrinho, Samantha Martinez, a senior at Oly, remarked that “it would be great if different cultures would be more talked about, and more appreciated,” including her own cultural identity.

Martinez later revealed she is often prejudiced against, saying “most people don’t really see me as a person, they kind of see me as the Mexican girl, as the mixed girl. They don’t really see me for who I am and what I do.”

Nonetheless, Rubin commented that she “would like for people to see that we do have an amazing student body that is composed of many walks of life both culturally and socioeconomically … There are layers of culture that are sometimes outwardly very obvious, but most of our cultural identities are silent and it is within this silence where misunderstanding is fostered.”

Though OHS has many systems in place to provide needed representation, it is important to remember that misrepresentation or lack of representation can be discouraging to peers of different cultures and backgrounds, and it is always beneficial to make classrooms and more, not only holiday-inclusive, but culturally-rich as well!