Solidarity took the form of whimsical giraffes this past Friday as College View School celebrated International Day of Acceptance, and the campus welcomed teachers, parents and administrators from throughout the district.
International Day of Acceptance was established in Chicago in 2010, according to the social entrepreneurial group 3E Love, as a “day dedicated to social acceptance of disability” and as a memorial to 3E Love founder, Annie Hopkins.
College View has been providing special-education services to children in the Glendale Unified School District since 1977 and first adopted the day of social acceptance last year.
“We want to do more, we want more support and we want more people recognizing and celebrating all people with disabilities and appreciating the challenges that they face,” College View principal Jay Schwartz said. “The message here, today, is that we’re all the same.”
Schwartz held a get-together Friday in the school’s multipurpose room at 1:18 p.m. sharp, which signified the date, Jan. 18. About 200 people gathered to commemorate the event and take part in a little history.
Schwartz encouraged unity by inviting all attendees to help break the school record for the most people wearing giraffe socks in one room.
Last year, 122 event-goers wore festive giraffe socks, and that total was easily surpassed this year, with 166 sock-wearers.
“The giraffe is our school mascot, and I thought about doing something fun and silly last year,” Schwartz said. “So, I just told everyone to bring socks to set a record. It was nice to see everyone, together, doing this.”
Schwartz said she hopes to one day have the accomplishment acknowledged by the Guinness Book of World Records.
The event was spearheaded, in part, by Jillian Lhymn, College View’s PTA president, whose 5-year-old son, Benjamin, is a student in Paula Nakaya’s pre-kindergarten class.
“Inside this room, all these people already understand what we’re trying to do,” Lhymn said. “This is about spreading that awareness and spreading that acceptance within the community. We all get it, but what we want is the rest of the community to understand where we’re coming from.”
The awareness campaign extended outside of College View as Dunsmore and Fremont elementary schools and Wilson Middle School also held ceremonies.
“I think it’s awesome to see this expanding in the district,” said Deb Rinder, the district’s executive director of special education. “People that know about this will support this. Since it’s a relatively new initiative, it’s going to take events like this to expand it.”
Though the Glendale Unified school board proclaimed Friday as International Day of Acceptance within the district during its meeting last week, Supt. Winfred B. Roberson Jr. said acceptance is a year-round goal.