Robbinsdale Area Schools is proud to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, a national celebration that annually recognizes the historical and cultural contributions to society of people who identify as having Asian and/or Pacific Islander descent.
In May, schools across the district are sharing lessons and creating activities for both students and staff to help educate them about the contributions and history of Asian and Pacific Islanders. Climate and culture specialists at several Rdale schools talked about what they were planning for the month.
At the School for Engineering and Arts (SEA) and Noble Elementary School, Michael Pittman created a presentation and lesson to share with students that discusses the month’s significance in an approachable and age-appropriate way. In addition, Pittman will be reading Joanna Ho’s book, Eyes that Kiss in the Corners, to students.
Youngsters who participate in Early Childhood programming will learn about the different Asian and Pacific Islander cultures. They will also see those cultures represented visually through a display in their building, according to Ebony Livingston. Like Pittman, she is doing classroom readings of books including Ohana Means Family by Ilima Loomis.
Across town at Plymouth Middle School (PMS), some Asian students will create a video about the month.
“Students will be recording the importance of their family heritage, values, experiences, and culture,” said Freedom Trotter, the school’s climate and culture specialist. “Parents are
welcome and encouraged to participate.” The video will be shared in students’ advisory class, and they will have the opportunity to discuss “what they have learned and any takeaways,” Trotter added.
Morning announcements at PMS will include information about Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage, and books in the media center will display titles specific to the heritage month.
The idea for the national commemoration began when a former Capitol Hill staff member, Jeanie Jew, talked with Rep. Frank Horton about creating a special recognition of Asian and Pacific Islanders. Horton later introduced a resolution to establish the Pacific/Asian American Heritage week. Similar legislation was introduced in 1977 in the Senate by Sen. Daniel Inouye.
In 1990 Congress passed legislation to extend the heritage week to a full month. Congress then passed another law in 1992 to designate May as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. In recent years, the month has grown to recognize native Hawaiians, with White House language referring to the month as Asian American Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, though the official name hasn’t been changed.
But this month is about more than important dates: it’s the stories of people’s lives, traditions and gifts to America that school staff hope to impart to their scholars.“Students will be researching and creating biographies and display boards of great Asian and Pacific Islander leaders, culminating in a school-wide ‘history museum’ where students will demonstrate their projects,” said Harry Jackson at Zachary Lane Elementary School and Robbinsdale Academy-Highview.
David Kek, who works at Robbinsdale Middle School, said, “We are currently putting together our main entrance display and an interactive map of Asia that staff can contribute to.” Kek will also provide more information and respond to questions staff and students might have about AAPI Heritage Month.