Equity, Diversity & Inclusion

Bellingham Public Schools | January 2021

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 January, we bring in a new calendar year with a variety of cultural traditions, many of which are recognized and celebrated in our community.

Different shades of mauve and pink leaves along the top of the graphic.  "Two thousand twenty one"

Calendar New Year

It's time to move from 2020 into a new year. Even if the celebration looks a bit different than years past, a new year is reminder to reflect, reset and reenergize (3R) for the road ahead.


Around the globe, the 3Rs are felt and shared differently. We explore a handful of traditions here, but we hope to learn more. Tell us how you welcomed the new year in your household!


Manuia le Tausaga Fou

There are 39 time zones in the world. Based on the International Date Line, the islands of Samoa and Kiribati are the first places on Earth to reach the Gregorian calendar’s new year on Jan. 1. Families in Samoa might reunite, decorate homes with flowers and the celebrate with dance, food and gifts over several days.


Happy New Year!

In normal, non-pandemic years, hundreds of thousands of people go to New York City to celebrate the new year with a Big Apple drop at midnight. In cities and communities across the world, fireworks go off or bells are rung. Hundreds of thousands more watch the festivities, concerts, and other events on television. Many more annual traditions occur, based on region, culture and household. For example, in the Southern United States, eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day is thought to bring prosperity in the new year.


Manigong Bagong Taon

An interesting Filipino tradition includes round shapes - these could be polka dots on clothes, coins or round fruit - meant to bring in prosperity and fortune. Pancit, a symbolic long noodle dish, adds to the festivities and the dinner table, bringing good health and long life.


Felice Anno Nuovo

Many Italians will opt for new clothes and gifts to ring in the New Year. Gifts are specific to the recipient, characterizing a connection and thoughtfulness.


Feliz año nuevo

In some Mexican traditions, eating 12 grapes with each chime of the clock's bell brings good luck in the new year.


Bonne Année

New Year’s gifting also shows up in many French communities, emphasizing monetary giving to postal workers, fire-fighters, rubbish collectors, cleaners, caretakers, apartment concierge, janitors and more.

Tu b'shavat

Julie, one of our community members, shared that on Jan. 28 the Jewish community celebrates The New Year for Trees, where "thanks is given to the trees and all that they provide for us." Thank you, Julie, for enhancing our heritage and identity message!

How do Greeks celebrate New Year's?

Linda, one of our community members, helps up celebrate the new year with traditions from Greece!


"One way is playing cards. It is a marathon day for Greeks. Families gather around and play cards for hours, starting in the early evening, and ending at midnight. Our family has always done this! Another New Year's Greek tradition is exchanging gifts on New Year’s Day, which is the start of a prosperous year ahead. They also give donations to charities. New Year’s bread is baked with a coin inside. The round bread is cut with a slice for each person, plus 3 additional pieces. The lucky person with the coin inside is given a small gift or money. We did this every year with my Yiayia, and mother. I don’t bake bread, so I’ve never done this!"


Thank you, Linda, for sharing a bit of your family with us!

Treaty Day | 166th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Point Elliott

Renee, one of our community members, reminds us that Jan. 22 is Treaty Day.


On January 22, 1855, the Treaty of Point Elliott created a Government-to-Government relationship between the United States and several Coast Salish nations. Ratified by the Senate in 1859, the Treaty guaranteed hunting and fishing rights and reservations to all Tribes represented by 82 different tribal leaders, including Lummi Chief Chow-its-hoot.


We are grateful for the reminder to continue learning about treaty rights and tribal sovereignty.

On the left, a lit sparkler sends bright sparkles in all directions. On the right, the days of January are shown with white text on a green background.

Prep for 2021

2020 kept us on our toes. Here are some opportunities to reenergize and prep for 2021:


  1. Connect to culture. Disconnection from one's culture may result in deeply rooted feelings of loss. Connect to cultural heritage by sharing stories with relatives, finding books and reading online.
  2. Meditate. Have you tried it? Meditation offers physical health benefits and stimulates the mind and spirit. Many of us can use these things right now. Meditation apps or online programs may help.
  3. PR. Ready to break out of the pandemic? Challenge yourself to a 10-day personal record (PR). Whether it’s a 10 minute run, 10 minutes of random cardio, 10 new recipes or 10 pages of journaling for 10 straight days, set a new record and then celebrate and reward yourself afterward.
  4. Self-care. How can you spend some time focused on your needs? Reflect on your situation to develop a self-care moment (or three). When is the last time you picked the movie? Have you turned on music and danced recently? Throw in a sweet treat just for you on the next grocery run, even if you have to enjoy it in secret! There are other Big 4 for Wellness activities listed on the district website.
A blue-gray sky with whispery clouds and some stars shine in the background.  The upper left and lower right corners have an outline of a brain.  Bright yellow text reads: Keep learning.

Moments in history | January

  1. 1893: The United States forcibly removed Queen Lili'uokalani of the kingdom of Hawai'i from her throne. At war with sugar plantation owners, Queen Lili'uokalani had been working on restoring constitutional rights to native Hawai'ians.
  2. 1943: The Jewish community in Warsaw organized armed self-defense groups to oppose deportations. This was the first known Jewish resistance.
  3. 1972: Shirley Chisholm began historic campaign for President. Chisholm was the first Black woman elected to Congress and the first to open a bid for highest seat in the country. She stated in 1972 that "Women, Blacks, brown, the young, the old, activists for social change, and just people who are tired of reading the election results before the votes are counted — are going to prove that our candidates and our policies and our government are not the exclusive preserve of the financial community, the political establishment and the opinion polls."


Resource: https://www.zinnedproject.org/

Resources

To realize equity, diversity and inclusion, a pillar of The Bellingham Promise, we commit to our continued learning.


Click on the following links and read the stories, listen to the series, or review the resources. Consider adding your thoughts to the What does equity look like to you? question on EDI webpage, commenting on our EDI blog or following along as conversations ebb and flow, following patterns of growth and forging new ideas.

Questions about heritage and identity month messages?

Contact us!

Policies and practices

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.


Depending on the holiday, family traditions and beliefs, some students or staff may miss school or class to observe a holiday. Please reference 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.
The Bellingham Schools logo shows a smaller person with a larger person reading.  The logo sits on top of a snowflake in the background.