Panther Diversity

What is diversity, do we have it, and how can we learn to love it?


Tatum Romero, Reporter

Diversity is everywhere; sometimes you can see it and sometimes you can’t. Woodland Park High School is a great example of just that. Living in a small town, differences can feel like division. It doesn’t have to be that way… Diversity is the “presence of a wide range of human qualities and attributes, both visible and invisible, within a group, organization, or society” (AMP Global Youth). Diversity is not a reason to hate each other but quite the opposite.

Students of many different races, ethnicities, gender identities, and sexual orientations attend Woodland Park High School. Upon first look, it may not seem this way. Living in a smaller, rural town can lead to a clear majority so the importance of seeking out the differences in that is huge. People and their stories are so important and are only enhanced when combined with those of other cultures and beliefs. The voice of a white, straight, Christian, cis male who voted for Donald Trump is so important and beautiful, and so is the voice of anyone else, no matter how greatly they may differ from that comfortable majority.

Unfortunately, rougher interactions, discomfort, a lack of trust, greater perceived interpersonal conflict, less cohesion, and lower communication are all common responses to diversity. That is not an encouraging list. Why do we care then? Or if we don’t, why should we?                                  

Diversity can actually make us smarter. In the wise words of Dr. Katherine W. Phillips, “We need diversity if we are to change, grow, and innovate”. What this means is, without diversity, we run out of ideas. It can be easier to accept diversity in other areas of our lives, for example, diversity of expertise. When a building is being built, who is involved in that? Yes, there’s the builder, but there is also a solicitor, a structural engineer, a geotechnical engineer, a surveyor, an architect, a draftsman, tradesmen, an interior designer, and quite a few others. When we as people need something, we are willing to accept people and ideas that are different. The problem with social diversity is we don’t think we need help in that department. We do need to see things differently sometimes though. Many surveyed students shared feelings of reluctance to share their differences of opinion with peers as a result of what Levi Sarmiento, a senior at Woodland Park High School, described as an “‘if you not with me, then you’re against me’ vibe”.

I invite you to seek out the diversity we have at our school. Elly Segal, a junior at Woodland Park High School shared ”I think that our school could be very accepting of minorities and diverse students, but at this point in time, I’m not seeing much diversity at our school.” She seems to believe in all of us, we just have to be brave enough to let our differences shine. We are diverse, and that is good. Don’t hide it.

The question “with which ethnicities do you identify?” was posed in a survey completed by students at Woodland Park High School, the results are shown in the graph above.

Woodland Park Panthers look and live in many different ways. We are republicans, we are Democrats. We are straight, we are gay. We are multiracial. We are different, we are the same. The amount of diversity across the whole school may be small, but it is there. If that’s you, share it. Be brave enough to share what makes you different, you never know how you can positively influence someone by sharing your culture. And that goes both ways, if you don’t feel very diverse, find someone who is different than you. You may learn something new. You may grow.