Cultural Diversity & Equity

April 2022 Newsletter

In This Issue

  1. Department Updates
  2. Autism Celebration Month
  3. Arab-American Heritage Month
  4. Tartan Day
  5. Earth Day
  6. Upcoming Events
  7. Religious Holidays
To check out more from the Equity department, go to our webpage:

Restorative Justice

This month we'd like to change gears and instead of talking about the work that the grown-ups are doing, we want to shout out our outstanding students who have embraced Restorative Justice this year!

The South East Junior High Justice League decided to bring their knowledge of circles to their younger peers. This month they went to Hoover Elementary to meet with the 5th grade Hoover Empathy Warriors to model how to do Tier 1 community-building circles.

They were able to help show how circle could look, and also share the excitement with the 5th graders about starting Junior High next year!

What's going on in our schools?

Lucas Elementary

Students are going above and beyond in all our buildings! In Lucas Elementary a group of 5th graders decided to share, and teach about social justice activists to 3rd graders.

The 5th graders collected and practiced reading books on several different people who made positive changes in our country, then came up with discussion questions to engage the 3rd graders in learning about these American activists. Students met in the library, and the 5th graders were 'learning leaders,' and took the lead teaching the 3rd graders about positive social change!

Supporting Students During Ramadan

This is a reminder to our district that many of our students and staff will be celebrating and participating in Ramadan this month. Ramadan will begin on April 1st, and for some of our Muslim community, this means that there will be fasting.

Students who plan to fast through Ramadan will not be eating or drinking during the school day, and we want to do whatever we can to make this easier and help our students feel supported during this holiday.

Staff will make a comfortable space for Muslim students during lunch, and understand that there may be limitations during physical education classes. Buildings will also communicate to students designated locations for prayer if they require it.

One of the most important things you can do is have an understanding and appreciation for our student's cultures and diversity. This is an opportunity to take an interest in your student's practices which may be different than your own, which can help build community in your classroom and will make a big difference.

To learn more about how you can support your students, click here.

What's going on in April?

Autism Celebration Month

April is Autism Celebration Month 2022

April is Autism Celebration Month! In 2010, the number of identified and diagnosed children with autism was 1 in 125, and by 2020, this number has increased to 1 in 54. We want to celebrate all of our students, families, and parents who are Autistic and/or neurodivergent this month and promote love and celebration of differences in our schools.

Last year we talked about the difference between Acceptance vs Awareness, but this year we are challenging ourselves to take things one step further and have a CELEBRATION of our Autistic community.

Acceptance is about having an understanding of diversity, and the individual experiences and prejudices that affect autistic people in our society. We will sometimes need to confront uncomfortable truths and change our behavior and systems to create environments for our autistic and neurodivergent students to thrive.

Celebration is about lifting up and honoring the contributions of autistic individuals, and wrapping around each other with support and love!

*In a previous year, we used a graphic for Autism Acceptance Month that depicted puzzle pieces. It was brought to our attention that puzzle pieces have been used by groups to depict autistic and neurodivergent individuals negatively. The Autistic community prefers either the gold infinity symbol for autism or the rainbow infinity symbol for neurodiversity to represent them. We removed the image last year and will continue to use the preferred symbols moving forward, and we urge others to do the same.

To learn more about this issue, click here and click here.

Check out this local event!

Strategies to help our students

Many autistic people have trouble recognizing tone. With our increasing communication via email/text here are some helpful tone indicators that you can incorporate into your day-to-day communication to help our neurodivergent individuals and cut down on miscommunications. Educators can provide a "Key" or a vocabulary resource for their class to show that these will be the tone indicators you will be using going forward.

Tone Indicators:

  • /j = joking
  • /hj = half joking
  • /s or /sarc = sarcastic/sarcasm
  • /srs = serious
  • /nsrs = not serious
  • /ref = reference
  • /nm = not mad
  • /ot = off topic
  • /q = quote
  • /m = metaphor/metaphorically
  • /rt = retorical question
  • /pc or /pos = positive connotation
  • /nc or /neg = negative connotation
  • /neu = neutral connotation

Try these out in your classroom to see what is and is not helpful to your neurodivergent students!

Additional Resources

April is Arab-American Heritage Month

The ICCSD is proud to recognize April as Arab American Heritage Month and acknowledge the contributions of all those in our community with Arab heritage, regardless of nationality.

There are about 3.5 million Arab Americans as well as many other Arab people living in America. Arab America and the Arab America Foundation launched the National Arab American Heritage Month initiative in 2017. In 2021 and 2022, President Biden recognized the month of April as National Arab American Heritage Month with a special letter.

Congress, the U.S. Department of State, and 37 state governors issued proclamations commemorating the initiative in 2021. A total of 130 proclamations, resolutions, and statements were issued in 45 states, including a proclamation by Mayor Teague of Iowa City.

The Arab world is made up of 22 countries that span from North Africa to West Asia with great diversity, including in religion. The three most common religions are Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. Hospitality, generosity, faith, family, and community are key components of Arab culture and children often become caretakers for their parents.

To learn more visit the following sources:

National Arab American Medical Association

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)

Credit to: Eyad Hanna and Riad Rahhal for drafting this statement, and sharing with us their knowledge of Arab American Heritage. Many thanks from ICCSD for all of your hard work.

Arab American National Museum

The Arab American National Museum (AANM) is the only museum in the United States completely devoted to documenting and sharing Arab American contributions to American life. They offer a wide variety of experiences and resources to teach young people about this diverse and rich culture.

You can take a look at their Core Galleries here. You'll find amazing art, videos, and even samples of different instruments. Or, if you're interested in taking a road trip, the museum is located in Dearborn Michigan! They also do virtual tours!

Check out their lesson plans for Middle School and High School here.

Additional Resources

Tartan Day

Did you know that April 6th is National Tartan Day where we celebrate Scottish-Americans?

In 1998, a Coalition of Scottish Americans with the support of Senator Trent Lott successfully lobbied the Senate for the designation of April 6 as National Tartan Day "to recognize the outstanding achievements and contributions made by Scottish Americans to the United States".

Today there are around 6 million Americans that claim Scottish descent! And of the 13 governors of the newly established United States, did you know that NINE were Scottish? Some scholars even say that of the 56 signatures on the Declaration of Independence, nearly a third are of those of Scottish descent!

Listen to some authentic Scottish Bagpipe music, and explore more resources below.

Fighting Sword

Scottish Bagpipes Music 🎶 by Fighting Sword

Additional Resources

Earth Day

April 22nd is Earth Day when we support environmental protection! This day was first held in 1970 and now it is a holiday that is celebrated all over the world! Our students have shown a lot of passion for our planet and have advocated for the Iowa City School District to reduce our carbon footprint and become greener!

The district took this to heart, and in March our Director of Facilities stated that we've reduced our carbon footprint by 48%, nine years ahead of schedule for our 10-year plan! Wow!

Click here to read The Gazette article to learn more!

Check out the links below to find cool ways to celebrate Earth Day in your classroom!

Additional Resources

Upcoming Events

Spanish Bilingual Storytime

Monday, April 25th, 10:30-11am

This is an online event.

Monday, April 25, 2022 -10:30am to 11:00am

Meeting Room A, Online

Join us every Monday for Spanish Bilingual Storytime! Every week, there will be a fun theme with plenty of repetition from previous weeks in order to enhance language learning. Get ready for a lot of movement with singing, dancing, activities, stories, and rhymes in Spanish and English. Children of all ages and their caregivers are welcome to join us.

Social distancing between groups in attendance is encouraged.

This program will be live broadcast on the Library Channel for attendance from home.

¡Ven a la biblioteca cada lunes para el programa de cuentos bilingües en español e inglés! Cada semana, va a ver un tema divertido con muchas repeticiones de las semanas anteriores para practicar los lenguajes. Prepárate para mucho movimiento con cantos, bailes, instrumentos, actividades, cuentos y rimas en español e inglés. Los niños de todas las edades y sus cuidadores están invitados al programa.

El distanciamiento social entre los grupos en asistencia está recomendado.

Este programa será transmitido en vivo por el Canal de la Biblioteca para la asistencia desde la casa.

Si necesita adaptaciones relacionadas con la discapacidad para participar en este evento, por favor avísale a la biblioteca.

2021 年 12月 6日,星期一
上午 10:30 至11:00
现场 + 在线活动

If you need disability-related accommodations in order to participate in this event, please contact the Library.

This event is open to the public.

Registration for Teen Anne Frank Book Program

Tuesday, April 26th, 10am-3:30pm

This is an online event.

The first ten registrations receive a free copy of The Diary of Anne Frank.

This event is open to the public.

To register, click here.

Chinese Bilingual Storytime

Tuesday, April 26th, 10:30am to Wednesday, April 27th, 11am

This is an online event.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022 -10:30am to 11:00am

In-person event + Livestream
Storytime Room

Join us every Tuesday for a special Chinese Bilingual Storytime with Children's Librarian Fang! Together we will enjoy songs, rhymes, stories and fun crafts in Chinese and English. Children of all ages and their caregivers are welcome to join us.

Masks are preferred and provided. Social distancing between groups in attendance is encouraged. In order to allow for social distancing attendance will be limited.

This program will be live broadcast on the Library Channel for attendance from home.






¡Ven a la biblioteca cada martes para disfrutar de una hora de cuentos bilingües en chino con la bibliotecaria infantil Fang! Juntos disfrutaremos de canciones, rimas y cuentos en chino e inglés. Los niños de todas las edades y sus cuidadores están invitados al programa.

Las máscaras son obligatorias para todas las personas mayores de dos años. El distanciamiento social entre los grupos en asistencia está recomendado. Para permitir el distanciamiento social, la asistencia será limitada.

Este programa será transmitido en vivo por el Canal de la Biblioteca para la asistencia desde la casa.

Si necesita adaptaciones relacionadas con la discapacidad para participar en este evento, por favor avísale a la biblioteca.

If you need disability-related accommodations in order to participate in this event, please contact the Library.

This event is open to the public.

ICPL - Teen Catalyst Hangout- Environmental Justice

Tuesday, April 26th, 4-6pm

This is an online event.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022 -4:00pm to 6:00pm

Teen Center

Are you a mover and a shaker who wants to play an active role in what happens in your community not only right now, but also in the future? This group will discuss issues like climate change, equity, and justice but we won't just talk. We'll complete projects that positively impact our local community. The group will grow together and tackle issues we decide on collectively.

This month we're highlighting the environment. How can you advocate for the climate? What steps can you take towards environmental justice? Join us to discuss how we can move forward.

We'll work towards a final project throughout the month but you can attend any session you'd like.

No experience is necessary and all voices are welcome.

If you would like to participate from an off-site location, join the Zoom link here:

This event is open to the public.

Anne Frank Tree Planting Ceremony

Friday, April 29th, 5pm

1 North Clinton Street

Iowa City, IA

On April 29, 2022, a new tree will be planted on the University of Iowa’s Pentacrest—a sapling propagated from the immense horse chestnut tree that grew in the courtyard behind the annex where Anne Frank and her family hid for 761 days during World War II. This living symbol of Anne’s spirit and humanitarian message is the 13th Anne Frank Sapling to be planted in the United States.

This event is free and open to the public. We encourage you to register so that we can approximate the number of attendees.

Attendees should gather on the Pentacrest lawn outside of Macbride Hall. In case of rain, we will meet in Macbride Auditorium, inside of Macbride Hall.

The event will also be live-streamed from this page on April 29.

The Anne Frank Tree: Taking Root in Iowa initiative is led by Dr. Kirsten Kumpf Baele (UI German Department), whose research and teaching focuses on Anne Frank; Baele authored the application that secured the sapling for the UI campus and Iowa City community.

For details, visit the Planting Ceremony webpage. For information about the Anne Frank Tree and associated events, please visit

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa–sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Erin Hackathorn in advance at 319-335-4034 or

Commemorative Observances

Commemorative Observances

This year we will acknowledge the various diverse cultures that are celebrated throughout the year. We understand that our calendar may not be all-inclusive, so if you are aware of any cultural holidays or months of observance that we should know about, feel free to reach out and let us know.

African American History Month (February)
National African American History Month in February celebrates the contributions that African Americans have made to American history in their struggles for freedom and equality and deepens our understanding of our Nation's history.

Women's History Month (March)
Women’s History Month honors and celebrates the struggles and achievements of American women throughout the history of the United States.

Irish-American Heritage Month (March)
Irish-American Heritage Month is a month to celebrate the contributions which Irish-Americans have made to the United States.

Jewish American Heritage Month (May)
Jewish American Heritage Month is a month to celebrate the contributions Jewish Americans have made to America since they first arrived in New Amsterdam in 1654.

Asian Pacific Heritage Month (May)

Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month is a month to celebrate the contributions Asian/Pacific Americans have made to American history, society and culture.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Pride Month (June)

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Pride Month commemorates the events of June 1969 and works to achieve equal justice and equal opportunity for LGBTQ Americans.

National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 - October 15)

National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates and recognizes the contributions Hispanic Americans have made to American society and culture and honors five of our Central American neighbors who celebrate their Independence days in September.

National Disability Employment Awareness Month (October)
National Disability Employment Awareness Month celebrates the accomplishments in the workplace of persons with disabilities and reaffirms the commitment to ensuring equal employment opportunities to all citizens.

American Indian Heritage Month (November)
National American Indian Heritage Month celebrates and recognizes the accomplishments of the peoples who were the original inhabitants, explorers and settlers of the United States.

By Month

Happy Holidays!

We'd love to give a big shout-out to all the holidays happening in April! If you celebrate any of these, we hope that you have an amazing day for yourself and your families!

  • Ramadan Begins - Friday, April 1st
  • Ugadi / Gudi Padwa / Telugu New Year - Saturday, April 2nd
  • Jalál (Glory) - Saturday, April 9th
  • Palm Sunday - Sunday, April 10th
  • Hanuman Jayanti - Sunday, April 10th
  • Ramanavami - Sunday, Spril 10th
  • Vaisakhi / Baisakhi / Vishu - Thursday, April 14th
  • Tamil New Year - Friday, April 14th
  • Holy Thursday - Thursday, April 14th
  • Mahavir Jayanti - Thursday, April 14th
  • Bengali New Year/Bihu - Friday, April 15th
  • Good Friday - Friday, April 15th
  • Passover (Pesach) - Friday, April 15th
  • Theravada New Year - Saturday, April 16th
  • Easter Sunday - Sunday, April 17th
  • Easter Monday - Monday, April 18th
  • Birthday of Guru Angad Dev - Monday, April 18th
  • Ridvan - Thursday, April 21st
  • St. George's Day - Saturday, April 23rd
  • Passover (Final Day) - Saturday, April 23rd
  • Yom Hasho'ah - Wednesday, April 27th
  • Laylat al Qadr - Thursday, April 28th
  • Jamál (Beauty) - Thursday, April 28th
  • Ninth Day of Riḍván - Friday, April 29th
  • Maidyozarem - Saturday, April 30th
  • Eagle Dances

Who is in the Equity Department?

Luke Dillon, Assistant Director of Equity and Instruction and Principal of ICCSD K-12 Online Learning Program

About Us

Non-Discrimination Policy

It is the policy of the Iowa City Community School District not to discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, religion, creed, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity and socioeconomic status in its educational programs, activities, or employment practices. There is a grievance procedure for processing complaints of discrimination. If you have questions or a grievance related to this policy, please contact Eric Howard, Director of Equity & Employee Relations