PISCATAWAY, NJ – Students and parents from the school district’s ten schools filled the Performing Arts Center in the high school’s Patton Building on April 5th, where performances, book talks and other activities were the culminating events for PiscatawayREADS.
PiscatawayREADS, a community-based initiative sponsored by the board of education, is an annual event designed to promote reading and literacy among students in grades K-12.
For the past several years, Brown and Brown, a local insurance company donates a selection of titles based around a common theme to the schools for the students to study ahead of the annual event.
This year’s theme was Celebrating Diversity and students read such titles as Mr. Lincoln’s Way by Patricia Polaaco which tells about a student who does not like anyone who is different from him and how his principal works to show him how to overcome his destructive ways.
Some students received awards for their essays on diversity, and others were chosen to display their original artwork in the Patton Cafeteria.
“We have amazing students here in Piscataway,” said Bob Coleman, the district’s supervisor of literacy and humanities and coordinator of this year’s program. “Piscataway is wonderfully diverse and we are proud of that,” he told the crowd of supportive parents.
“This is great that the district does the program for the students,” said Shirley, whose daughter is a second grader at Grandview Elementary School and read the book, Separate is Never Equal by Duncan Tonatium.
Student performances included members of the high school’s Adaptive Creative Class who acted out scenes from the play, Cinderella, and a Randolphville third grader who recited her essay about supporting diversity.
“Embrace, respect, and teach about our differences,” she said, noting she is of Indian decent but has friends in many different cultures.
Another third grader, from Knollwood School, performed a cultural dance, also to celebrate her Indian heritage, and incorporated hip-hop into the routine.
An Arbor School student recited a poem on living in a diverse world. “Celebrate diversity and follow your heart,” she advised.
One of the high school’s dance groups choreographed their routine themselves, using music and spoken word poetry focused on building self-esteem and becoming confident in themselves.
And Andre Felton, a student at PHS read the poem, I am Diversity, Please Include Me by Charles Bennafield because “it’s written to address diversity issues in a corporate environment, but applies to the community around us.”
“Sometimes I think when we support one group it is perceived that we put down another group,” said Dr. C. Alex Gray, principal of the Martin Luther King School,
He expressed how proud he is to be a principal in a diverse school building during a panel discussion later in the evening. “I want my children to embrace everyone they come in contact with,” he said.
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