Munster celebrates inaugural Diversity Dinner at MHS

A day after Gary celebrates World Civility Day, IDEA holds a diversity dinner at MHS


Ms. Kim Peirick

CELEBRATING EACH OTHER, TOGETHER Prior to the group discussions, Grace Clark, senior, Ms. Hannah Fus, ASL teacher, Ms. Anne Copp, exceptional needs teacher, and Joe Higgason, junior pose for a group photo at Munster’s first inaugural Diversity Dinner.

Atarah Israel, Editor-in-Chief

Brandishing name tags, smiles and open minds, various Munster and neighboring community members entered the MHS cafeteria ready for the town’s inaugural Diversity Dinner April 28. Spearheaded by STM’s Inclusion Diversity Equity Awareness group and Munster’s Chamber of Commerce president Dr. Brad Hemingway, the main focus of the meeting was group-based discussions regarding understanding diversity and interacting mindfully with people of various backgrounds. 

“This all should’ve started a long time ago,” Mrs. Jovanka Cvitkovich, director of exceptional achievers and member of IDEA’s awareness team, said. “Embracing diversity, embracing how we are alike in so many different ways and embracing what is different about others and how that also still connects us. That will make our school community and our Munster community so much stronger. We will support each other that much more because we understand each other.”

Led by Ms. Cherish Hall, a private contractor through the Anti Defamation League, the evening began with opening remarks from Mr. Bojan Jovanovic, sponsor of IDEA and WWMS assistant principal, and ended with the pre-divided groups of community members and students sharing reflections on their in-depth conversations with those around them. Among the issues discussed were acknowledging diversity beyond race, such as disability awareness, and representation in schools. 

“Tonight is important because diversity is strength,” Ms. Hall said. “These conversations have to happen. If they don’t happen, we can’t move forward, so I am excited about being here today.”

The dinner comes a day after the Gary Chambers of Commerce’s sixth annual celebration of World Civility Day, a day-long event of workshops promoting peace and mindful interactions. The day ended with an evening banquet hosted by Gary Chambers of Commerce CEO and president Mr. Charles “Chuck” Hughes, featuring special guest presenters such as Dr. Clyde Rivers, World Civility Ambassador; Reverend Dr. Janette Wilson, Human and Civil Rights attorney; Mr. Art Norman, NBC 5 News reporter and Dr. Robert Rohm, author, corporate trainer and host of the PBS special, “The Model of Human Behavior.”

“We have all kinds of things going on in every aspect of society—it could be politics, it could be domestic situations, it could be bullying among young people, it could be road rage, it could be violence, it could be abrasive language (or) it could be vitriolic discourse,” Mr. Hughes said. “There are all kinds of things that are pervasive in our society, so World Civility Day is an awareness campaign to make people conscious that we need to treat people in the manner we want to be treated. That was our motivation.”