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Inviting inclusivity

Diversity Action Troupe reaches out to elementary students

-Submitted photo
Sophomores Simeon Roberts and Emma Connelly read to students at Duncombe Elementary in February. The Diversity Action Troupe from the high school is doing outreach work at all the elementary buildings this school year.

When Fort Dodge Senior High drama teacher Lindey Krug started the Diversity Action Troupe, she said her goal was to allow students of color to see themselves in more areas of life than they had in the past.

Now in its third year, the Diversity Action Troupe has done that and more, making an impact on students at both the high school and the elementary buildings.

“Diversity Action Troupe is something I had been kicking around in my head for about five years,” said Krug. “It’s mirrored after the Black Action Troupe that I worked with at the University of Iowa when I was in college. The idea stemmed from the fact that I could see students of color gravitating toward athletics in our schools, but I didn’t see the same diversity in our fine arts.”

Two years ago, the Diversity Action Troupe spent time planning and creating a vision, said Krug. Last year, the group did two events at the high school. This year, the students are doing outreach work at the elementary schools. They’ve done events at Duncombe, Feelhaver and Butler and have plans to work with Cooper, the Early Childhood Education Center and the middle school in the future.

“The kids are doing some storytelling and some poetry with each of the elementaries. For the younger kids, we talk about all the colors in a crayon box and how they are all important,” she said. “The older students did fill-in-the-blank poetry to show how we are different but we have a lot of the same wishes and goals for our lives.”

-Submitted photo
Members of the Fort Dodge Senior High Diversity Action Troupe work with members of the University of Iowa Fine Arts Department last fall. Members of the college’s Darwin Turner Action Theater helped the high school students with presentation skills.

Krug said the students from the high school have taken the lead on what presentations to do at each of the schools. She said it’s been satisfying to see them take on that responsibility.

“I absolutely love that. It builds leadership skills and there is a pride factor, where they can say ‘We did this. We created this.'”

She said she reached out to all the elementary schools to gauge their interest in having the Diversity Action Troupe present at their schools. She initially envisioned maybe an all-school assembly, but it’s worked out where small groups of students meet with individual classes.

“I think they get more interaction with the smaller groups. It’s more intimate,” she said. “And that way, they aren’t missing a full day of school here. I can have two students go for an hour and another two go for an hour.”

Krug said the feedback from elementary teachers has been positive. She’s seen several Facebook posts from elementary schools raving about the Diversity Action Troupe’s visits.

Last fall, Krug reached out to the University of Iowa Theatre Department and told them what she’s doing at the school and asked if there was a way to collaborate. She was put in contact with Isaac Addai and they decided to bring artists from the university to Fort Dodge to work with her students. Addai is part of the Darwin Turner Action Theater, the new name for Iowa’s Black Action Troupe.

She said her students were able to do a workshop for a few hours and learned how to better build their stories and better get their voice out into the community.

“My job as an educator is to provide learning opportunities for all of my students. What I noticed is that students of color in this community don’t often see themselves in the fine arts. I hope I’m doing my part in showing my students the possibilities and giving them avenues to pursue that they might not have thought of before,” she said.

As for the path going forward, Krug said she’s letting students take the lead on that as well.

“I want them to figure it out. The program is for them so whatever they want to get out of it, I’m willing to let them do it,” she said.

She said they are planning an event at Cooper in March and the Early Childhood Education Center in April. They are also hoping to get into the middle school this school year.

Krug said she’s always looking for new students to join the group. She said she schedules an MTSS session each Monday at the high school for the students to meet. Anyone who would like to be a part of the Diversity Action Troupe can join her MTSS that day.

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