Equity, Diversity & Inclusion

Bellingham Public Schools | December 2020

Our diverse community provides opportunities to learn and celebrate with each other.

Bellingham Public Schools highlights heritage and identity months to recognize contributions of various groups in the United States, many who remain underrepresented in education. We honor and acknowledge diversity allowing us to explore the origins of heritage and identity.

This month, we focus on the many traditions celebrated in the month of December.

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Better with you

December offers us a month of brilliant color, celebration and tradition. Around the world, time-honored festivities connect communities with gifting rituals, giving opportunities, song, dance and, almost always, food. Within ethnic and/or geographic cultures, people celebrate the holidays and traditions in similar and completely different ways, creating opportunities to learn, respect and share within our community.

We invite the community to engage in winter festivities with us, using an inclusive lens to:

  • Honor leaders and organizations dedicated to the needs of others;
  • Learn about and appreciate the many traditions represented in our community;
  • Share stories of winter festivities important to our heritage and identities;
  • Celebrate student philanthropic acts and service projects;
  • Highlight music and art from around the world; and
  • Use decorations to signify our understanding of diverse traditions.

Community submissions

Enhance this community space and share your celebrations, stories and pictures with us! We will feature several family traditions on our blog.

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Big moments in December

Bodhi Day Buddhists celebrate Bodhi Day on Dec. 8, signifying the day Prince Siddhartha

Gautama sat underneath the Bodhi tree and attained enlightenment. Mahayana Buddhists in China, Korea and Vietnam honor Bodhi Day as part of a larger tradition. Mahayana Buddhists celebrate Bodhi Day on the eighth day of the twelfth month of the lunar calendar, which means the dates change from year to year. In Japan, however, Bodhi Day follows the Gregorian calendar. Every year, Bodhi Day in Japan is celebrated on Dec. 8.

Hanukkah Beginning Dec. 10, Jewish families will begin celebrating Hanukkah, or the Festival of Lights. For eight days, festivities include nightly menorah lighting, special prayers and traditional fried foods.

Human Rights Day Observed annually on Dec. 10, this year's Human Rights Day theme centers on recovery efforts for the COVID-19 crisis.

Las Posadas and Noche Buena — Dec. 16 marks the beginning of celebrations in some Mexican traditions. Carols, a parade and a piñata are among the many highlights of the season, which lasts until Dec. 24. Noche Buena, on Dec. 24, is an anticipatory celebration where families gather in community often well into the night. Celebrations vary widely, but common elements include high energy festivity, food, music and community.

Simbang Gabi Catholic Filipino traditions include a nine-day series of Masses in anticipation of Dec. 25. Simbang Gabi begins Dec. 16 and ends Dec. 24 with Misa de Gallo, a midnight mass. Filipino homes might be decorated with parols, colorful star-shaped lanterns to light up the festivities.

Winter Solstice In the northern hemisphere, the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year

and the start of winter, will occur Monday, Dec. 21.

Christmas — Around the world, Christmas traditions vary. Some see Christmas with a focus on giving, others see Christmas as a time of spiritual growth.

Kwanzaa From Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, a tradition for many Black Americans includes celebrating kujichagulia, ujima, umamaa, nia, kuumba and imani, represented by seven candles. The

celebration caps on Dec. 31 with a banquet featuring food from various African countries.

Calendar dates

Dec. 4: On the first Friday of every month, until the end of 2020, Art Walk will include outdoor dining spaces alongside artists in a Downtown Art & Parklet Walk. Put on your cozy (weatherproof) clothing and join the fun from 4 to 8 p.m.

Dec. 13: Home for the Holidays with the Bellingham Symphony

Festive classics, storytelling, sing-alongs and the astonishing power and range of soprano Ibidunni Ojikutu fill their holiday program. With seasonal favorites and works from around our region and beyond, the symphony will celebrate the many influences that make the holiday season so rich and meaningful. The concert will air multiple times over the holiday season.

Dec. 21 - Jan. 1: No school/Winter Break

Partnering with families, Bellingham Public Schools will develop a space for sharing and celebration. Families are invited to submit suggestions, videos, photos, and descriptions of celebrations and stories to janis.velasquezfarmer@bellinghamschools.org. Check the EDI blog for community responses.

Each month, we will highlight nationally recognized heritage months and other days of identity, celebration, and remembrance with narratives, links to local events, good reads, exhibits and more.

Policies and practices

Depending on the holiday, family traditions and beliefs, some students or staff may miss school or class to observe a holiday. Please refence Policy 3122 and Policy 5409.

  • Holidays may have an element of fasting and/or late-night events. We ask staff to make reasonable accommodations to support staff and colleagues.
  • We also ask staff and PTAs, including coaches/advisors to try to avoid high holidays for events and exams, whenever possible, in accordance with 2340P.
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Resources and meals

Furthering our commitment to an inclusive holiday season, we will focus on family support and access to resources during the break.

Weekly meal box distribution has returned to Wednesdays.

  • The December boxes will be given out on Dec. 9 and 16 at the regular 21 locations.
  • The Dec. 16 box will contain 21 meals to cover additional days during winter break, including a recipe for carrot ginger soup created by the Central Kitchen and Common Threads. All the ingredients needed for this soup are in the Dec. 16 box.
  • Important note: there will be no meal box distributions on Dec. 23 and 30. The Bellingham Food Bank will continue to operate around the holidays. Visit their website for more information on times and locations.

If you need additional support, please contact the Family Resource Center now: 360-676-6456. Meal box distribution will remain on Wednesdays in January 2021.

The Lighthouse Mission offers a place to stay, a meal, and additional supports.

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