Challenge Day speakers, pictured with Westerville teacher Stephanie Martin, were (left to right) Westerville North students Katie Slenker, Valerie Helenberger and Kirsten Swank; and Westerville Central students Morgan Racik and Megan Foster.
Local citizens gathered on Sunday afternoon, September 27, for the Westerville Community Culture Celebration, designed to inspire open dialogue, educate, break down bias, and promote peace, acceptance, inclusion and one humanity. Booths were set up displaying arts, crafts and wares of various cultures, and Lott of Tales storyteller Teri Lott shared stories from around the world. Food samples were provided by Fiesta Jalisco.
- Holocaust survivor Sofiya Karpovich, who feels it is her obligation to speak out against hatred for those whose voices were silenced;
- Participants in the Westerville City Schools Challenge Day program, where students learn how to listen, share, and appreciate themselves and others for who they really are;
- Bishop Joey Johnson, organizer and Senior Pastor of The House of the Lord in Akron, who imparted wisdom about understanding implicit bias; and
- Bol Aweng, a Sudanese artist who shared his struggle about making his way to America after fleeing his homeland at the age of six, without his parents, as helicopter gunfire and aerial bombs ripped apart his village.
Westerville City Schools Superintendent Dr. John Kellogg welcomed attendees, saying, “A snapshot of the children in this community mirrors the melting pot that is America. Such diversity presents challenges, but also opportunity. Because of our culturally vibrant school district, the pupils we are educating today will leave here prepared to thrive in a multicultural world. I am delighted and proud that Westerville is embracing each other’s differences and am certain our lives will be enriched by doing so.”
Westerville Community Culture Day was a collaborative effort of the City of Westerville, Leadership Westerville, Otterbein University, the Westerville Area Ministerial Association, Westerville City Schools, the Westerville City Schools Challenge Day program, and Westerville Sunrise Rotary.