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News Release

Lehigh Valley high schools get together at Moravian to discuss cultural diversity

Over 400 students, teachers, and administrators from 22 Lehigh Valley high schools will participate in a conference on October 13 and 14 at Moravian College focusing on ethnic and cultural diversity.

The conference, titled "The Promise of the Rainbow: The Challenge of Racial and Ethnic Cultural Diversity in Schools," will provide an opportunity to explore issues of racial and cultural diversity in an open, positive and constructive manner. Moravian College, in association with First Union National Bank and Just Born Inc, is sponsoring the annual conference -- now in its seventh year.

The recently crowned Miss Pennsylvania, Mayra Acosta, currently enrolled in Teacher Certification courses at Moravian, will address the participants at the start of the program on Tuesday, October 13, at 8:30 a.m. Don Cunningham, Mayor of Bethlehem, will speak to the group at lunchtime on Tuesday. Dr. Ervin Rokke, Moravian College President, will speak at the lunch program on Wednesday, October 14.

The goal of the conference is to foster a better understanding and appreciation of the cultural diversity found today in schools, according to Dr. John Reynolds, a Moravian political science professor and conference organizer. The program’s main focus is teaching conflict resolution skills; this year there’s a special emphasis on commitment.

"It is important that the conference has a lasting positive impact. This year we are going to ask each participating school to make a commitment to take a tangible first step in promoting inclusiveness," he said. "We will then contact schools in the spring to follow-up and document their progress. The goal is to then publish and distribute a booklet, highlighting the year’s progress, to other schools as an example of what can be done to improve understanding."

"We have the most diverse nation in the world and it’s important to recognize that there are great benefits to derive from that diversity," Reynolds said. "Unfortunately there is also a great deal of pain, hatred, and conflict because of our diversity. This conference is designed to teach people to embrace the benefits of diversity."

Approximately 400 high school students are expected to attend the conference. Participating schools on October 13 include William Allen, Bethlehem Catholic, Dieruff, Emmaus, Lehigh Valley Christian, Moravian Academy, Northampton, Parkland, Pleasant Valley, Southern Lehigh, and Whitehall. The following will participate on October 14: Bethlehem Area Vocational Technical, Career Institute of Technology, Easton, Freedom, Liberty, Nazareth, Notre Dame, Phillipsburg, Pocono Mountain, Saucon Valley, and Stroudsburg.

The conference will be highlighted by a "sociodrama" workshop – a role-playing experience in which students and teachers will dramatize situations of potential conflict. The workshop will be followed by group discussions in which students will examine the sociodrama situations and explore how their high school experiences are shaped by cultural diversity. Teachers and administrators from their schools will join the high school students at the conference. Also attending will be students and educators from Moravian College and other Lehigh Valley colleges, and representatives of several community organizations.

The conference will be held at the Prosser Auditorium in Haupert Union Building (HUB) on Moravian College’s Main Street campus.

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

(Tuesday) repeated on Wednesday
8:00 - 8:30 a.m. Registration: Haupert Union Building (HUB)
8:30 - 9:00 Greetings, Orientation: Prosser Auditorium
9:00 - 10:15 Sociodrama: Prosser
10:30 - 11:45 Discussion Workshop: Who Am I? Who Are They?

    Group 1: Snyder Room (HUB)
    Group 2: Air Products Room (HUB)
    Group 3: Brethrens Room (HUB)
    Group 4: United Room (HUB)
    Group 5: Comenius Hall, Room 101
    Group 6: Comenius Hall, Room 105
    Group 7: Comenius Hall, Room 111
    Group 8: Comenius Hall, Room 114
    Group 9: Prosser Auditorium (HUB)
    Group 10: Amrhein Room (HYB)
    Group l1: The Doghouse
    Group 12: Comenius Hall, Room 218

Noon - 12:45 p.m. Lunch: Johnston Hall
12:45 - 1:30 Leadership Workshop: Conflict Resolution
(Follow schedule for morning group session)