The Garden Grove Unified School District is celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month by recognizing its own staff members and students on social media, giving the school community an opportunity to learn about what this month means to their peers and neighbors.
The annual celebration held in May recognizes the historical and cultural contributions of individuals and groups of Asian and Pacific Islander descent to the United States.
The district has spotlighted students in varying grade levels, along with a community liaison, a teacher, an assistant principal and a director.
Robert Nguyen, a Vietnamese world language teacher and associated student body advisor from Garden Grove High School, led the district’s celebration as its first post of the month.
“Asian American Heritage Month is an important opportunity to highlight the accomplishments and contributions that those of Asian heritage have made in American society,” said Nguyen. “Representation matters to every age bracket but particularly to our youth because they are at a stage in their lives where they want a sense of belonging and fitting in.”
Nguyen believes that students don’t just turn to media for representation, but they also look to their teachers and school administrators as a reflection of themselves.
The district’s Garden Grove Way strategic plan focuses on its deep commitment of equipping all students with academic skills and personal skills for lifelong success. One of the ways it does this is by using social media to spotlight and raise awareness about its diverse student population. Students of Latino descent make up 56 percent of the district, and students of Asian descent account for 29 percent.
“Our district focuses on creating a warm and welcoming climate and culture that allows students to feel safe and respected as well as enjoy a sense of belonging while at school,” said Abby Broyles, Garden Grove Unified School District’s public information officer. “We know this is an important component to supporting the social-emotional wellbeing of our students.”
The district also spotlighted an elementary school student, a middle-school student and two high school students, including Delaina Maae.
“My culture shapes my character and how I carry myself on the field,” said Delaina, a student athlete from Pacifica High. “I believe celebrating AAPI heritage is important because growing up I didn’t have that many role models to look to, and I didn’t see that many girls on the field that looked like me and honestly just generally, in life, I just had my family.”
Throughout the year, the district and its schools host a variety of events to celebrate and honor the cultural traditions of the families it serves.