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2019 Keystone Cares Essay Contest

(Editors Note: This essay was writting by Gianna Renzo, a junior at Central Mountain High School, which took first place in the #KeystoneCares essay contest for November.)

Upon first glance, our small town in central Pennsylvania may not appear to have much diversity. We live in a small rural area with a characteristically white population. Regardless, diversity exists as differences in race, ethnicity, gender, age, sexuality, economic status, ability, and religion. Embracing diversity is not just about tolerating others — it is about inclusion and acceptance. As a school and as a community, we have to look beyond the labels that we give each other to embrace what makes us unique.

Diversity should not be merely tolerated — it should be celebrated. We should celebrate diversity to learn to work together. The message of acceptance cannot be understated. Whether you a­­re black, white, transgender or a member of the LGBTQ community, you deserve respect, tolerance, and compassion. The main goal of any community should be to promote tolerance and embrace diversity. Practicing respect, compassion, and tolerance towards others is not only our responsibility as students, educators, or citizens — it is our moral responsibility as individuals.

Teenagers are the leaders of the future. As students, we are growing up at a time where people are becoming more perceptive to change. The students at Central Mountain High School have recognized this and created a Spectrum Club to celebrate diversity and share the stories of underrepresented students. Although this is a large action that is a step to unifying others, we can take many small steps as individuals to embrace our uniqueness and diversity. As students, the best way to create change is to recognize that your peers as individuals and not as stereotypes.

There are numerous advantages to embracing diversity. We live in a multicultural, pluralistic, global community that thrives on teamwork. People from different backgrounds have a wealth of unique knowledge, experiences, and perspectives. Learning how to embrace diversity as students prepares us to be citizens in the future.

In the words of Michelle Obama, “Here in America, we don’t let our differences tear us apart. Not here. Because we know that our greatness comes from when we appreciate each other’s strengths, when we learn from each other, when we lean on each other, because in this county, it’s never been each person for themselves.”

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