Spreading A Message of Unity Before The Holidays


Courtesy of Yorktown HS Twitter

Last year’s Unity Potluck

Philip Blumberg, Sentry Staff Reporter

On December 19, students across all grades will gather after school in the cafeteria for the fourth annual Unity Potluck. They will have the chance to meet new people, enjoy a plethora of food options and play fun activities while spreading some holiday cheer. The potluck is always held just before winter break to strengthen the school community during the season of joy. 

The potluck first began in 2016, right after the divisive presidential election that brought tension to the community. Our school suffered through some of the disruptive effects of the election, so the ROCS (Respect Others, Community, Self) Committee decided to create an event to bring everyone together in an inclusive environment. The political landscape in 2016 was certainly contentious, but with current developments it is arguably even more alienating and polarizing nowadays. In today’s pugnacious world, students with unique backgrounds coming together is exceedingly meaningful. While the potluck is a great opportunity to make new friends and eat some treats, it embodies much more than that. It represents a broader goal of our school’s community: to bring in students from different cultures and ages to enjoy quality time together. 

Zahra Castellano, a family and consumer science teacher and the chair for the Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) committee, thinks that the togetherness of the event is what makes it special. She wants to distance the potluck from politics, and instead likes to focus on the inclusive environment and celebration. 

“I think something like the potluck is about more than politics. To me, it’s about school spirit, making friends with people outside of our little niches and festivity. [The potluck] is something that we all bond in [and] something that can be fun around the holidays,” Castellano said. 

Health teacher Stephanie Meadows has a similar view on the potluck. She emphasized the enjoyment of the event and diversity coming together as one. 

“I think [the purpose of the potluck] is to have something fun to do before the holidays and for people to see that there are a lot of different groups and cultures out there that celebrate the holidays differently. We all have the same goal of being nice and kind,” Meadows said. 

Over the years, the event has grown bigger. Groups like the Fishing club and Key club are getting involved, and these groups help organize the events and games there. In the past, attendees had the opportunity to write letters to nearby nursing homes and soldiers overseas, or participate in other merry activities like cookie decorating. This year, students will write letters to hospitalized children to brighten their holidays. The Students ROCS committee has also been collecting toiletry items throughout the week for those in need at homeless shelters. In addition to these good deeds, there are simple ice-breakers to introduce more people to one another and a chance to try a variety of foods from different parts of the globe. Perhaps this year’s most fun activity will be the dance lesson, led by Latinas Leading Tomorrow.

In order to attract more students to the potluck, an announcement was sent out to every student and staff member at our school on the Canvas homescreen. It included the link to a Sign Up Genius where clubs and individuals can sign up to lead activities and bring food or drinks.

The Unity Potluck tomorrow is a wonderful opportunity to spread a message of cheer and togetherness to combat any division plaguing our school community. It will certainly be a fun and hopeful way to spend an afternoon before the holidays.

“At the potluck, we are all together … as Yorktown Patriots,” Castellano said.