DIXFIELD – Dirigo High School students will kick off Monday with an inspirational talk about diversity by Auburn Mayor John Jenkins and end the day with a performance by the Acholi Dance Group from Somalia.

In between, they will have a chance to visit more than two dozen workshops that explore everything from recycling and Jewish culture to yoga, women’s issues and religious tolerance.

Monday is the high school’s sixth Diversity and Cultural Awareness Day, organized by Norm Greenberg, who is the school’s learning lab coordinator.

“We want to bring the world to Dirigo, to bring education to life for students, to enhance the education students receive by enabling them to meet and talk with actual representatives of ideas they usually just read about,” he said by e-mail.

Parents have been notified of the widely eclectic offerings, and students may opt out of any workshop, and choose only those of interest.

If a student chooses not to attend school that day, he or she must write a three-page research paper on diversity and cultural awareness by interviewing a person who is an example of the day’s purpose. The topic must be approved by Principal Michael Poulin.

Other topics include programs on the Holocaust, gender and sexuality awareness, birth control and STDs, stories of lesbians and gays and information on the underground railroad in Maine.

Cultural topics include growing up in Korea, Georgia, the Ukraine, Venezuela and Japan, and as an African-American or as an Iranian. Students will learn what it feels like to grow old, be deaf, or live life in a wheelchair.

Other workshops include those dealing with organic and local agriculture and volunteering opportunities with the Maine Conservation Corps. Greenberg said he and others devoted about three months to putting the program together.


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