Expanding the PV perspective

Student group Diversify Our Narrative strives for more inclusive education

Diversify Our Narrative made its way to PV on Aug. 17, 2020. The group aims to incorporate diverse texts into the curriculum for a more inclusive education in school districts.

Ellie Schaumberger

Diversify Our Narrative made its way to PV on Aug. 17, 2020. The group aims to incorporate diverse texts into the curriculum for a more inclusive education in school districts.

Ava DeVincenzo, Staff Editor

(Editor’s Note: To highlight the district’s efforts to spread inclusivity and equity throughout the Pascack Valley community, The PV Student Publication will be publishing opinion and feature articles on various groups and organizations within the district that align with its mission.)

Senior Ellie Schaumberger was scrolling through Tik Tok one night when she came across a nationwide group called “Diversify Our Narrative”, which was created by students in California following the Black Lives Matter protests last year.

Diversify Our Narrative made its way to PV on Aug. 17, 2020. The group aims to incorporate diverse texts into the curriculum for a more inclusive education in school districts.

“I thought [the group] looked cool because I like to be involved in current events, so I signed up to be one of the organizers for our district from Tik Tok and I happened to be the first person to sign up from our area,” Schaumberger said. “Then, I started recruiting people by sending out a Google Form in the Equity Team’s group chat.”

After sending out the Google Form, Schaumberger found that others had begun to pass it around as well. In total, 18 people signed up, allowing the district to officially start a PV chapter.

“I didn’t realize this was going to be a real group I would form, I just knew I liked to be involved in the current events that are going on,” Schaumberger said. “I wanted to stay involved in the community – that’s my main reason for sending out the Google Form and joining.”

Senior Natalia Chinchilla was one of the first people to sign up for the group by filling out the Google Form that Schaumberger distributed. Now, Chinchilla is the Local Organization Outreach Director for the group.

Chinchilla said there are many goals this group wants to accomplish.

“For now the first goal is to have, within the literature department, at least one piece of literature in classes that is by an author that is Black, indigenous, or a person of color,” Chinchilla said.

To make this happen, the club started a petition in hopes of getting at least 10% of the district’s population sign – both students and teachers – which would then be brought up to the administration.

“The petition will show that students, teachers, [and] alumni of the school like the idea of having at least one text by a person of color, or indigenous, such as the Asian community or the Latinx community, being included in the curriculum,” Chinchilla said.

The petition accumulated over 250 signatures from individuals at Pascack Valley and Pascack Hills, reaching the district’s required votes. Beyond this, the group has other goals it wants to achieve.

“We want our curriculum to encompass more perspectives,” Chinchilla said. “As we know, the United States is a country that is made up of immigrants of all different backgrounds and ethnicities – it is time for their voices to be heard.”

While there’s always room for improvement, District Supervisor of English, Art, and Media Centers Valerie Mattessich explained how the English department has made an effort to steer away from the “all-male, white canon” by having conversations with students after they’ve finished a novel, novella, poem, or short story.

“This idea allows students to read texts by authors that feature a variety of different perspectives, such as stories about being in the LGBTQ+ community, featuring Asian-American authors and characters, or anything else,” Mattessich said.

Additionally, the English department has incorporated different viewpoints in the curriculum through independent reading. Each English classroom has a bookshelf filled with modern texts that include any topic that is trending in society.

“A lot of people are aware of the fact that we have been shielded from a lot of our [country’s] history and literature,” Chinchilla said. “There are a lot of voices that have been left unheard for a long time”.

Chinchilla said Diversify Our Narrative is different compared to other PV clubs because the members consider themselves as “more of a group” and they do not have a club advisor.

“This group is great because we can speak freely and we get to talk in a way that we don’t have to hold back what we are saying,” Chinchilla said. “We are putting forward what we want to do rather than having a teacher barrier that pushes us to do something, in a good way or a bad way.”

Junior and district representative of the group Sarah Boumlouka said she enjoys working with the “passionate” people inside of the group.

“We’re just friends trying to work together to [accomplish] something [that is] really important to us,” Boumlouka said.

Senior Angela Song said she joined Diversity Our Narrative to present another perspective to the group, as its mission is to hear and see from different backgrounds.

“I wanted to be a part of the movement in widening people’s views and making the stories of minorities and the underrepresented finally known,” Song said.