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Arlington High School celebrates diversity of its student body with new initiative

The hallways of Arlington High School are undergoing a transformation to become more welcoming and inclusive, thanks to a student led Diversity Council.

ARLINGTON, Wash. — Arlington High School will have a new look when students return this fall. The hallways are undergoing a transformation thanks to a student led Diversity Council.

Principal Duane Fish said the council was formed over a year ago and during the pandemic they met virtually to address numerous issues brought up by students. 

The students identified one simple way to focus on diversity and inclusion at their school: through photographs. 

The photos that currently fill the entry and hallways of Arlington High School are outdated, and the Diversity Council also believes they're out of touch. 

"We had a student approach one of our teachers and ask when we were going to update the pictures. 'That’s my uncle and he’s 35!'" explained Principal Fish when describing the current photos. 

But updating the photographs is just a start and diversifying the images goes beyond just race and heritage.

What is known as the "See Every Eagle" project is an effort to make the hallways reflect the inclusive environment the Arlington Eagles want to be known for. 

Principal Fish said Arlington High School is actually more more diverse than people might assume. "Currently, we have 27% minority students," said Principal Fish. 

Teacher and student advisor, Ben Ballew, said it was the students who asked, "How can we see ourselves reflected in the hallways of AHS?" 

The Diversity Council started by selecting 28 new images that better represent the entire student body and the many unique clubs and activities that make Arlington High School unique. 

Student leader Teagan Sutherland said she was part of a mini Black student union as a freshman, but felt there was a disconnect with administrators.  

"When we were approached to be a part of Diversity Council it meant a lot because that meant we were finally getting listened to and our faculty is listening and actually cares," said Sutherland.

Spanish teacher Naomi Gonzales said she’s motivated by the students' leadership and their commitment to feature students from all walks of life.  

From the robotics club to ROTC, band, sports, special education and LGBTQ+ club. The entry to Arlington High School read, "Character Strong," and the Diversity Council is leading by example with a commitment to be more inclusive and welcoming to "Every Eagle."