As John Carroll University students finished up Friday classes, over 200 high school and grade school students and educators gathered to celebrate diversity in the Dolan Center for Science and Technology on Friday, Jan. 23.
Hosted by the Diversity Center of Northeast Ohio, the Charter One Bank Diversity Luncheon recognized two local students for their leadership in the area of diversity and commended the other students in attendance for their efforts, too.
The annual event honored the memory of Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Each year, I am impressed by the students’ commitment to service in their schools and communities,” Diversity Center President and CEO Peggy Zone Fisher said in a press release. “It gives me great hope for the future when I spend time with such remarkable young men and women.”
The luncheon, sponsored by Charter One Bank, began at about 11 a.m. with a short introduction by Fisher. Following this, the students and educators proceeded to enjoy a “Southern BBQ” meal prepared by JCU Catering.
All in attendance showed excitement at the prospect of learning more about the other attendees and about diversity.
“I’ve never attended this luncheon, though I’ve been to other diversity-related events,” one Warrensville Heights student said. “I’m excited to look at the thought processes about things in life with diversity.”
Dispelling stereotypes was a key focus of the luncheon, as students and educators posed together with personalized messages on posterboards, which featured the hashtag “#morethanastereotype” at the bottom.
One student from PACT High School at JFK, located in Garfield Heights, said, “We can help get rid of stereotypes like ‘all teenagers are bad.’ That’s not true, we need to help improve that.”
As lunch concluded, the students moved into the Donahue Auditorium for a performance by Eris Venia Eady of “Leading Off the Wall.” Eady, a local artist, poet and activist, received inspiration for the piece from Michael Jackson’s 1980 single, “Off the Wall.”
Following the performance, Eady facilitated an interactive discussion with the audience.
All in all, everyone involved called the luncheon a success. Marlon Moore, a vice president at Huntington Bank and a member of the Diversity Center board, echoed the sentiment.
“Anytime you can get young students together for a common cause, good things happen.”