Chesterton High School and the greater Duneland School Corporation is a dynamic, ever-evolving community representing a variety of ethnic, cultural, racial and social dimensions. Over the past few years it has become very apparent that the cultural makeup of our student body has and is changing. With those changes comes different values, needs, interests, points of view and life situations. Those factors among others affect how our students learn, participate in the classroom and interact with each other. We believe our students will benefit socially and emotionally by developing the potential to lead more successful lives with the awareness, understanding and skills necessary to recognize not just the differences between but the similarities they share with the people they encounter in our community and the world in which they will live.

To that end, we have developed an interactive event for students and staff which we have dubbed “Alchemy”.  The historic practice of alchemy was meant to transform something; “It aims to purify, mature, and perfect certain objects”. That is our ultimate goal. In response to our ever-evolving community, we’ve chosen to use this format to ignite a new mindset among our students.

The event will take place during one school day.  This initial event involves 58 student and staff participants. Our long range goal is to develop this event into a larger production involving up to 200 students, which we foresee offering to students and staff on a yearly basis.

The day’s events consist of a series of interactive activities in small groups. Each activity is designed to stretch, challenge and expand the students’ knowledge of themselves and those who are not like them. The process is intended to be fun and thought-provoking resulting in a change in the students’ mindsets, leading to more effective collaboration and interaction in school and beyond.

There is an abundance of research on the benefits of teaching students about cultural differences, such as:

Experience and Understanding of cultural sensitivity and diversity (from the US Dept. of Education and the University of Michigan):

  • Promotes student growth and reflection
  • Helps students to learn to collaborate and communicate with varied cultures/backgrounds in the work environment
  • Prepares students for good citizenship; civic discourse
  • Can lead to stronger motivation to take or accept the perspective of others
  • Promotes a greater sense of commonality in values about work and family
  • Leads to a more positive perspective when conflicts or differences of opinion arise

The student participants, student facilitators, and the staff will be asked to complete an assessment at the end of the day.