Everyday at East Providence High School teachers discuss the “culturally” diverse environment we live and learn in at EPHS, but are we as diverse as we think we are?
Diversity is defined as: “The state of being diverse” and here at EPHS we pride ourselves as being part of an extremely diverse environment – especially compared to some of our neighboring towns. It seems that diversity, however, is something that students either take for granted or something that really is not that important. Nonetheless, diversity is something to be proud of and to be grateful for.
Diversity allows students to be more aware of not only different cultures, but also different types of people in general. Often people consider diversity as based solely on race, but diversity can also be related to gender, sexual orientation, political affiliation, religion, etc. Such differences in who we are and what we believe can help to overcome stereotypes and create an environment where generally people are accepting of one another.
This message is a strong one and a good choice for a school like EPHS… but the question remains. Are we as diverse as we think we are?
According to the RI Department of Education, during the 2010-11 academic year at EPHS, 77% of the student population was White, 15% was African American, 5% was Hispanic/Latino, 2% was Asian, and 1% was Native American. Those statistics show that EPHS really is not as diverse as we say it is.
One argument for the claim that we are diverse is that EP has long had a large Portuguese and Cape Verdean population – many of whom have been imigrants. That is not the case as much in 2012 as it was in the past. Many Portuguese and Cape Verdean families have spent more than a few generations in East Providence. This raises another question. Does diversity (or the apearance of) really add to the quality of our learning environment at EPHS.
When looking around the classroom, it is clear that the answer to such a question would be a resounding “yes.” Though racially we may not meet the exact definition of diversity (like cities like Providence or Pawtucket), in other areas, the student body is made up of many different types of people. On any given day, walking the halls together there are young men and women who are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Straight, Gay, etc… and none are phased by each other’s presence. Some might consider this to be a state of oblivion but what it truly represents is the accepting nature that we have here at EPHS.
There may not be a clear answer to the original question “Are we as diverse as we think we are,” but a lot can be learned by simply contemplating the question. By definition, EPHS might not be as “diverse” as some schools, but what it lacks in definition it makes up in the accepting attitudes of the students. Although diversity is important to community, what is equally as important is acceptance. This is where, in contrast to many places, East Providence High School excels.
For in-depth charts of diversity and other aspects of East Providence High School, visit the RI Department of Education Website at: http://infoworks.ride.ri.gov/school/east-providence-high-school