Equity & Inclusion Newsletter

April 2023

Spotlighting Recent Work

Region 15's Successes at National History Day's Regional Competition!

Region 15 had an impressive day on Saturday, March 25 at the Connecticut History Day, New Haven regional contest, graciously and enthusiastically hosted by Southern CT State University. Students from Rochambeau, Memorial and Pomperaug High School participated in the competition. Our students shined and made us proud!

Having college professors and historians conduct students' interviews adds a professional atmosphere to the contest. Rosa DeLauro, the United States Representative from the third district, and Joe Bertolino, President of Southern Connecticut State University, assisted Rebecca Taber, CT History Day State Coordinator, presenting the awards to students during the closing ceremony on Saturday. All three expressed being impressed with the students' work, but most importantly for their respect and interest in equality. Memorial Middle School eighth grade Student Maria Bueno, was asked what a key takeaway from her experience is. She quoted Gladys Tantaquidgeon, whom her group documentary is based on, "It's hard to hate someone that you know a lot about." Joe Bertolino and Rosa DeLauro both picked up on this comment during the awards ceremony. "SCSU takes pride in being considered the Social Justice University of Connecticut," stated Joe Bertolino. "All are welcome here, we are an inclusive university, and we do not tolerate racism of any kind." His words were met with enthusiastic cheers from the audience.

This year's theme is, Frontiers in History: People, Places and Ideas. Thirty students within Region 15, from Rochambeau Middle School, Memorial Middle School and Pomperaug High School, selected topics of personal interest based on that theme. Each of the winning projects will be moving on to compete at the state competition on May 6th, at Central Connecticut State University. Please join us in congratulating the following students and in congratulating all students who participated

Rochambeau Middle School
Junior Individual Website:
1st Place: Averie Hartley
Project Title: Sally Ride

Memorial Middle School
Junior Group Documentary:
1st Place: Jillian O'Connor, Maria Bueno, Marlo Gabriele, Payton Pentino
Project title: Gladys Tantaquidgeon: Frontier To Preserving The Mohegan Medicine and Culture

2nd Place: Lexie Howe & Ryan Murray
Project Title: Julia Child: Crossing Frontiers One Recipe at a Time

Junior Group Website:
2nd Place: Ciara Proulx, Kylee Deleo
Project Title: John Tyndall: Frontiers in The Greenhouse Effect

Pomperaug High School
Senior Group Website:
2nd Place: Liam Quinn & Owen Broadwater
Project Title: Footsteps of an Empire: Frontiers of the Ancient World

Senior Group Exhibit:

2nd place: Kate Hawn and Nihitha Nelakudity

Project Title: Frank Kameny: Morally Debating the Gay Rights Movement

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From left: LeAnn Cassidy , MMS Social Studies teacher & NHD Advisor, Marlo Gabriele, Maria Bueno, Jillian O’Connor, Kylee Deleo, Payton Pentino, Ryan Murray, Lexie Howe, Sharon Wlodarczyk, Region 15 NHD Advisor & PHS Staff member; Back Row, Karl Buckley, MMS Social Studies teacher & NHD Advisor *Note: Some student participants not pictured.

Memorial Middle School's World Autism Month

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Memorial Middle School is honoring Autism Acceptance Month in multiple ways. Students and staff will be learning about people with autism and honoring AAM by...

Magnificent Mind Monday: Autism is a neurological variation which means that the brains of people with autism work differently than the brains of allistic (non-autistic) people— and that's amazing! Celebrate how amazing it is that all our minds work in different, wonderful ways by wearing a fun hat and/or hair and your favorite Autism Awareness shirt!

Neurodiversity Tuesday: To celebrate the beauty of the diverse spectrum of the human mind, wear rainbow and/or tie-dyed clothes to school!

What’s Your Passion Wednesday: One characteristic of autism is to show an incredibly focused passion for topics of interest. What are you passionate about? Dress to show something you love!

Sensory Friendly Thursday: People with autism often have a variety of sensory sensitivities. Dress up today in your most comfy clothes (including school-appropriate pjs), use as much natural light in your classroom instead of fluorescents, and/or wear sunglasses.

National Arab American Heritage Month

In 2021, the US State Department recognized National Arab American Heritage Month for the first time, and this year has done so again, in addition to other governmental agencies throughout the United States. Similar to each monthlong celebration we highlight in newsletters, we balance the need to honor the month's focus with the insistence that history representative of all groups of people belongs in each month! Yet, we do want to acknowledge the opportunity to lift up the importance of focusing on Arab American's contributions to the world around us, as the heritage month is intended. Did you know that Arab Americans have ancestry in regions spanning from North Africa to southwest Asia and include more than 20 countries?

The book selected to share in the video below is one of many fun texts that focus on Arab American heritage! In this video, you'll experience a youth reading aloud Halal Hotdogs, written by Susannah Aziz and illustrated by Parwinder Singh.

Looking for middle grade texts? Click here for some recommendations! Looking for books for high school students? Click here!

Library Friends - Halal Hotdogs Story

World Autism Month Read Aloud

April is World Autism Month. Click here for more information from the UN, and here for more information from Autism Society of America.

In the read aloud video below, All of My Stripes by Shaina Rudolph and Danielle Royer, the message is really one of self and social acceptance. In this book, the main character Zane is caring, young, smart, and curious. Zane is experiencing challenges at school often associated with autism. The text may be helpful for people with autism in its affirming messaging, and for caregivers and peers to help facilitate deeper understanding.

We know that while diversity is a fact, inclusion is an action. This is a really important idea, belief, and way of being. It means that it is up to each of us to do, say, and think things that are inclusive. If we each feel responsible for that, then we each will be able to feel a strong sense of belonging, which really matters a lot.

Looking for books for older children? Click here for some recommendations.

All My Stripes: A Story for Children with Autism read by Shaina Rudolph and Danielle Royer

More resources for continuous learning

Calendar of Religious Observances

Why is this information important?

  • The towns of Middlebury and Southbury are made up of families representing many different religious and cultural identities.

  • The information below is offered as a resource to increase awareness of & respect for religious observations and ethnic and cultural festivities. These observances may affect students, colleagues and neighbors in our community.

What are some ways this information can be used?

Calendar planning by for use in scheduling and planning details, for example:

  • workplace festivities

  • community events

  • school activities and exams

Click to access the ADL 2023 Calendar of Observances

Because our intention in sharing this information is to increase awareness of and respect for religious observations and ethnic and cultural festivities that may affect students, colleagues and neighbors in our community, your input is important. Please email equity_inclusion@region15.org if there is something we missed!

Contact & Social Media

Instagram: @r15equity_inclusion

*Note: Image (c) 2019 CLC Collective and Dottir Press