Pleasant Grove High School Kicks Off a New School Year and Goal of Inclusivity
Sac School Beat
A news story regarding a recent mural and various inclusivity initiatives being added to Pleasant Grove High School in the 2022-23 school year in an effort to appeal to PGHS' minority population and enrich the campus environment.
This year, Pleasant Grove High School doesn’t just have a goal of educating students on academics. Instead, the school is also focusing on teaching students to celebrate diversity and practice inclusion on their campus.
For the 2022-23 school year, Pleasant Grove’s administration hopes to fulfill the campus’ Vision Statement of creating a “learning community where all are safe, supported, and encouraged to grow.” According to U.S News, 64.6 percent of PGHS students identify with a minority group, prompting the school to foster a welcoming community for their diverse group of students.
Building on more than a dozen clubs centered around specific cultures, LGBTQ+ topics and inclusion, PGHS student government leaders and school administrators aim to further boost their campus culture through a variety of events being reintroduced as the school transitions back from distance learning.
One of the most noticeable changes Pleasant Grove’s students have experienced so far is the freshly painted mural at the center of campus, which was designed by senior Lauren Johnson.
“I wanted to do things that every student could resonate with,” said Johnson about the symbols included in the mural. “I wanted to make sure that every kind of thing in high school is represented. But then, the whole idea was that diversity kind of touches every single aspect of our programs at school, and that’s kind of my whole idea around it.”
Johnson wanted to go further than the typical elements associated with high school, and while she included sports, clubs and academics, she also added multicolored skin-toned ribbons and the trans and gay pride flags.
Other than the mural, PGHS also plans on hosting a Multicultural Family Night. Being one of the activities experiencing a revival after the Covid lockdown, principal Taigan Keplinger said she hopes the event will be just as successful as before.
“I think 600-700 families showed up. It was incredible,” Keplinger said about the pre-Covid event. “We also did a potluck, so each family brought a different cultural dish to share with everyone who attended the multicultural assembly.”
Even the school’s website has seen recent improvement, with a district-wide requirement resulting in a reorganization of all the high school websites. The graphics of the previous website weren’t easily accessible for the visually impaired, putting Elk Grove Unified School District in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and prompting the revamp.
With the website now “accessible for all,” as Keplinger said, the result of the district’s unintended transgression might have actually increased Pleasant Grove High’s image as an inclusive and accommodating campus.
Overall, despite the set-backs of Covid, Keplinger remains optimistic about the trajectory of the school’s diversity, citing inclusion as one of her “core beliefs” as both a “human and as an educator.”
“I want everyone – students, staff, and families – to feel included and welcome on this campus and safe,” Keplinger said, “and my hope is through the mural, through the activities that we’re doing, that students see themselves as an important member of this campus.”