By Tim Leeds
The Havre Middle School Culture Club closed a successful year learning about cultures around the world at its last meeting Wednesday afternoon.
The meeting started with the students building care packets to donate to The Salvation Army. They then celebrated with some pizza before advisor Daisy Sherman presented certificates of appreciation to people who had helped with the club, certificates of achievement to some of the students, and jackets to all of the club members.
Sherman, who started advising the club this year, said she had two main goals for the club. One was to learn about and appreciate all cultures in the world; the other was to do community service.
Before making the care packages for The Salvation Army, the club decorated the doors at the Northern Montana Care Center and visited with the residents there, and cleaned up the grounds around the middle school.
To learn about cultures, the club had speakers from around the world come in to address the students. Many members of the International Club at Montana State University-Northern addressed the club, as well as international students at the college who are not members of the International club.
Sherman said one speaker who addressed the club was Shirley Eder, whose background is Indians; Assiniboine and some Oregon tribes. Sherman said Eder held the attention of about 15 club members the entire time, telling them how to make a cradle board and talking about the cultures of the tribes she belongs to.
She said the international students would come in singly or in panels and answer questions the Culture Club students had about their countries; questions about their schools, their language, how they dressed, what their houses were like, and so on.
Sherman said she doesn't want the club to focus only on Indian culture. She said she thinks setting Indians aside and isolating them in a club is counterproductive, and wanted the club to learn about all cultures. She said she wants them to learn to love and honor not just each other, but to love, honor and understand cultures from all over the world.
She said the club is now about half Indian and half non-Indian.
"How can you have people accept each other when you separate them and set them apart, isolate them," she said.
She said part of her goal in this is to teach the club members community service. She said its important to learn to care about the members of the community, and she tries to teach this in the club.
Marlyn Damson, a parent of one of the club members who helped with the club this year, said she thinks teaching students to care about their community like this is very important. She said there is so much violence out there, they need to learn to love each other. She said while kids learn from adults, she thinks if adults see the students working in the community and helping people, they might be able to learn from each other.
Sherman gave special thanks to several people and groups at the meeting. She said Barry Zanto, assistant principal at the middle school has been especially helpful with the club this year, and the rest of the middle school staff. She also thanked Damson, Faye Red Fox, Shirley Eder, Yong Im Arango and the MSU-Northern International Club. Sherman gave certificates of appreciation to these people, and certificates of achievement to club members Shane Ironmaker and Sharon Sherman, who were nominated to apply for the Cook Scholarships this year.