Ypsilanti Community Schools Events Celebrate Diversity

Ypsilanti Community Schools (YCS) are celebrating diversity through the arts.

Through a partnership with Embracing Our Differences (EOD), YCS will soon be hosting an Art Extravaganza that partners art, music, and dance to create a powerful and exciting experience for their students. 

Embracing Our Differences 

This project began when Embracing Our Differences, a nonprofit organization with a Michigan branch, met with administrators from Ypsilanti Community Schools to discuss ways to better focus on diversity, inclusion, and equity within the school district. 

This focus fits well with the goals of Embracing our Differences. The mission and vision on its website reads, “through the transformative power of the arts, we (EOD) educate and inspire to create a better world. We envision a society that embraces differences, builds respect and celebrates the diversity of the human family.”

EOD works to create art installments and curriculum that enrich the community through inclusivity. 

A partnership between Embracing Our Differences and Ypsilanti Community Schools has now allowed an entire district to engage with this mission. 

YCS Art Extravaganza 

Although the actual event will take place on May 16, the project began earlier in the year when the Unified Arts Department of YCS worked to develop art, music, and dance projects and performances to display at the extravaganza.

Each of these artistic displays is centered on diversity, meaning that students of all ages at each school have learned not only about art but about also about inclusion and equity through this project. 

After a year of participation and effort, the students will see their artwork come to life on May 16 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

Thanks to support from Embracing Our Differences, the students will ride from their school to Washtenaw Community College in the comfort of upscale buses wearing tee shirts that read “YCS Art Extravaganza.”

Nancy Margolis, Executive Director of the Michigan branch of EOD, describes a multi-modal experience for the students once they arrive at the Extravaganza.

As they walk into the building, Margolis sad they will see vast “projections of artwork on the walls all around them. Then they will sit down in the auditorium where the art is also projected on a screen and again on walls.” 

This event will also include music and dance performances by YCS students. 

Margolis said the artwork and performances that students will see have been created by about 400 children from the various schools who have worked on diversity throughout the year and includes diverse representations of race, gender, sexuality, and ability.

This experience will allow students to see their own work and the work of their peers in exciting, larger than life ways.

Gallup and Riverside Park displays 

Although the Art Extravaganza is closed to the general public, Embracing Our Differences invites guests to see their public displays.

The artwork has been chosen from artists all over the world and from 28 local artists based in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. This art is displayed on giant banners throughout the park, creating an impressive visual experience that represents and celebrates diversity.

Although you are welcome to simply come wander through the displays, free docent-led tours are also offered to schools and other groups through the EOD website. 

Diversity Day

For those interested in exploring even more displays of inclusive art, music, and dance, Embracing Our Differences is also sponsoring a Diversity Day event on Sunday May 21 from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at Gallup Park.

During this event there will be many tables sponsored by different local organizations from Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti offering art activities for children and several exciting give-aways.

Area libraries and the Ann Arbor art center will be attending, along with five EOD artists who will be onsite to show their work.

The event will also feature performances by local bands and the Ypsilanti high school choir beginning at 1 p.m.

Also, Diversity Day will feature the artwork of 50 local kindergartners who were awarded Best in Show for their display, which features their own self-portraits under a shared umbrella. 

The event will take place rain or shine in the southeast corner of Gallup Park by Huron Parkways and Geddes Road. On behalf of Embracing Our Differences, Margolis encourages the community to come participate in what is sure to be an exciting community event.