Omaha private school looks to increase ethnic and racial diversity of student population

Marian High School held its first Culture Day on Friday.
Published: Apr. 14, 2023 at 5:43 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - From lively music to dancing and food, students walked out of their gymnasium learning something new on Friday.

“It’s a great opportunity to teach others and I was super excited,” student Bana Kakish said.

Marian High School celebrated its first culture day. Some students shared a piece of their culture and the country they’re from with their classmates.

Bana Kakish spent days and nights preparing for Friday.

“By teaching others they’ll be more accepting of diversity and everything,” Kakish said.

A lot of her culture comes from the Middle East, specifically the country Jordan.

Growing up as an Arab girl, she says her culture has always been very important to her – but living here, a part of her has always felt excluded

“Everyone else was American,” Kakish said. “I had no exposure to any other cultures and I thought because I was Arab I was different.”

Many of Kakish’s peers have experienced the same situation.

Kelsey Herrera felt she couldn’t express her culture growing up.

“You can’t because it’s seemed weird or just a little bit odd that it’s different from others,” Herrera said.

However, the school is trying to build a more inclusive atmosphere. Their cultural day celebration was representative of that.

In the last three years, the school has seen a 25% increase in its racial and ethnic diversity

“Diversity has a lot of different definitions,” Ernst said. “We’re celebrating cultural diversity, but it’s an important aspect of Marian High School.”

Michelle Ernst is the President of Marian High School.

She told 6 News they are offering diversity programs and tuition reduction assistance to welcome any student of any background

“We work with everybody to make it affordable and make it accessible,” Ernst said.

For Kakish, it’s important to her that schools like Marian are becoming more diverse.

“It’s more inclusive and makes people feel more comfortable so it’s important for other schools to be diverse,” Kakish said.