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Carroll County Times – April 9, 2011 — By Megan McKeever, Times Staff Writer

ELDERSBURG – Junior Sinclair Vinson found that marketing a product to both men and women was more difficult than expected.

“When we’re little our parents treat us all the same,” Vinson said. “But, as we grow up we separate because that’s how society sees us.”

The analysis of gender roles in advertising was just one of numerous activities presented at Liberty High School’s first Unity Day, to help students step past common stereotypes.

Students found it was easier to find items appropriate for both males and females, such as toys, board games and musical instruments, when concentrating on a younger age bracket.

“When you’re older there’s not a lot of stuff for both genders,” said Vinson, 16.

Students were randomly split into groups for the day, mixing up grade levels and friend groups, said English teacher Trisha Deen, who helped organize the event.

“I hope today

begins conversations between people that wouldn’t necessarily have happened in the past,” Deen said.

Each activity was moderated by a student volunteer who had previously completed diversity training led by Patricia Levroney, coordinator of Minority Achievement and Community Outreach for Carroll County schools.

The message, differences make a rich school environment, is stronger when students are hearing it reiterated from peers, Levroney said.

“By the peers standing up and saying ‘hey we’re not going to take this anymore’ it has an impact,” Levroney said.

Spanish teacher Nicole Williams said the day of unity should mark a fresh perspective and clearer understanding of one another.

“It’s a feeling more than just words,” Williams said. “I hope students can see we are all the same.”

Aside from the gender activity, students viewed a preview of “Aida,” the school’s spring musical, which shows multicultural conflict.

Students also participated in “Shred the Word,” which had students tear up note cards with hurtful words, and “If you really knew me,” which asked students to share information about their backgrounds. Taking the time to listen and learn about classmates can change attitudes, Williams said.

“We have lots of things in common, we all feel emotions and we are all influenced by society,” Williams said. “I hope students see this and realize there is no need for bullying and name-calling.”

 

 

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