An Independent School • Grades 5-12

Q&A with Zinda Foster, Upper School service learning coordinator/Upper School student center and activities director

Zinda Foster, Upper School service learning coordinator/Upper School student center and activities director, designed and installed celebration displays in Lakeside’s student center, pictured below. She shares why she put them together and how they were received in a Q&A.

Why did you create the celebration displays?

We have a lot of students with different values and home traditions that we don’t often talk about or display. Knowing this from conversations with students, I decided that the student center had an opportunity to put a voice to their celebrations. I started with the three that are timely: Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa. I plan to do several more displays in the spring: one highlighting the Muslim holiday Ramadan and one recognizing LGBTQ Day of Silence.

Are students interacting with the displays?

Oh yeah. In fact, the Hanukkah menorah display was a point of discussion with several students and adults. I heard “candles are wrong,” “the menorah is facing the wrong way,” and “can we eat the gelt?” (they did even after I glued them together!) I also had students asking about Kwanzaa and saying they appreciated all the decorations.

Are the displays related to your work, or Lakeside initiatives like Our Work Together?

Yes, they specifically address goals three and four of Our Work Together.

  • Goal three: Empower students, employees, and families to bring their full selves to Lakeside School and actively build relationships with people who are different from themselves. 
  • Goal four: Continue to nurture a school culture that acknowledges and honors difference, leading to an increasingly inclusive school where every individual is listened to, respected, and valued.

When we see ourselves and our values displayed, we feel an affinity with the space and more comfortable letting our values show. For example, when the student questioned the placement of candles it was clear they felt empowered to challenge the existing configuration. This, for me, meant they cared. And that is what we want, students to know that we care. Other students also commented on never having seen Kwanzaa recognized or being glad to see it honored.