Acknowledging Cultural Celebrations

The MVHS administration’s stance on cultural awareness and reducing workload for traditionally celebrated holidays


COVID- 19 has had many lasting implications on the celebration of multiple festivals, including the cancellation or hindering of multiple events. However, this has not stopped MVHS faculty from recognizing many cultural festivals that much of the school population celebrates, such as Diwali and Lunar New Year.

On Nov. 9, principal Ben Clausnitzer sent out an email to all MVHS staff with information about  Diwali. According to PTSA president Kathy Jacques, the information was gathered from local Indian households, who gave extensive information on the festival and the culture behind it, acknowledging the high level of preparation and work that goes into making the festival what it is. 

 “I think this year has been really tough. We’ve all been spending more time together than we thought we would, but at the same time, you know, spending time together, and being able to share in family traditions and family celebrations is a lot different from being in the same house and your family’s all celebrating and doing other things and you can’t participate because you’re stressed out about getting your homework done or getting ready for a test.” said Clausnitzer. 

Jacques also aims to celebrate a variety of diverse cultural holidays like Lunar New Year to bring awareness and more recognition to the many cultures within the school community. She believes that this is the first step toward furthering FUHSD’s anti-racism mission, which aims to prevent any sort of discrimination on campus through information and education. 

Jacques explains “We all share the basic core needs, so to speak, you know we all want the best for our family, we all want the best for our kids. We all want to work hard. We all just want to be respected and accepted. So I think, you know, the schools recognizing these various holidays and signaling their acceptance and respect for various cultures does go a long way to combating racism.” 

According to Clausnitzer’s email, teachers were advised to lower workload for most students, stating that, “not having a workload this weekend would be welcomed.” For sophomore Suhani Vakhariya, the email’s recommendation was a great way to provide the proper attention and respect to the people that celebrate Diwali. She believes that this recognition was important in highlighting the passion that the Hindu community shares through celebrating. 

“I’m sure it’s the popularity and the passion that even the population of Monta Vista brings about  Diwali because I’m sure like, at least in my friends in my friend group we’ve been talking about Diwali for a month before and a month after. So it’s a really huge thing for us and I’m sure of the popularity, the passion that Monta Vista students bring towards Diwali and other Indian festivals.” said Vakhariya 

According to US News, about 80% of the MVHS population is Asian, a significant majority, with the rest of the population consisting of 13% white, 4% mixed, and 3% Hispanic students. Jacques believes that this huge population of students deserves some recognition for the yearly preparation and effort that goes behind celebrating Lunar New Year, where family members all join to spread love and well wishes. Senior Tiffany Chen, who celebrates Lunar New Year, believes that festivals like that are essential to recognize and respect, due to the high number of people that celebrate it.

“A lot of the MVHS community is Chinese or has something [of] that ethnicity, that celebrates Lunar New Year and it can be difficult because you usually eat meals and you’re trying to celebrate family but you’re also trying to balance workload which can be pretty heavy sometimes. It’d be a lot better if the admin took that into consideration like to give students time to celebrate and just enjoy some time off with family.” According to Chen

To Clausnitzer, other festivals’ recognition besides Diwali for the MVHS community has not been completely finalized yet, still being a learning experience not only for him but for much of the staff. However, he is open to the idea of flexibility, and aims to find the balance between too little and too much flexibility, having a current goal of simply spreading as much information as he can. He also states that these steps are important in creating an all inclusive community that spreads beyond the classroom.

Clausnitzer adds “I think it’s the world of learning about each other. The world of celebrating with each other. And when I say celebrating each other I suppose it’s celebrating our diversity together. And in doing that, looking to grow as an inclusive community so that everyone feels safe, so everyone feels valued and feels welcomed. Yes, at Monta Vista, yes, in our school community and yes in the city of Cupertino.”