Daily file photo by Patrick Svitek
Evanston/Skokie School District 65 will celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month throughout the month of May “in solidarity” with AAPI community members, according to a Friday newsletter.
“There is certainly an increased need for continued learning, discussion, and action after an alarming rise in violence and hateful attacks directed at Asian Americans and immigrants since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic,” District 65 superintendent Devon Horton said.
The district will take steps to become an anti-racist institution, Horton said, which includes teaching about diverse identities and accomplishments throughout class curriculums and across the school year.
In the letter to students and parents in the district,, Horton commended Asian American Pacific Islander community members for their courage, strength and leadership throughout the last year.
Anti-Asian hate crimes in 16 of America’s largest cities increased 149 percent in 2020, according to the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.
As part of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, D65 educators and parents can participate in an “Asian American Voices” panel on May 18 hosted by Lincolnwood Elementary School principal Max Weinberg to discuss Asian American visibility in Evanston and in the district. Educators of Asian Pacific and South Asian descent will speak at the panel, and participants will then move through smaller group presentations and discussions.
All residents can also take part in celebrating Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month by making crafts, listening to speakers and watching performances at the Evanston Asian, South Asian, Pacific Islander Heritage Month Arts Festival on May 22 in Fountain Square.
State politicians across the country began pushing for an Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month as early as 1977, and Congress passed a public law designating May as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month in 1992. In a Monday City Council meeting, former mayor Steve Hagerty officially proclaimed this May 1 to May 31 as Evanston Asian, South Asian, Pacific Islander American Heritage Month and designated May as the official month for future annual celebrations.
Horton said the district’s equity work will extend past this month, investing time and resources to focus on mental health, social emotional learning and bullying prevention as schools open up next year.
“We value the Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander students, staff and families who call Evanston and Skokie home,” Horton said. “Thank you for making our community stronger.”
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