LAKEWOOD, Ohio — Walk through the halls at Lakewood High School and you’ll see diversity on display with every step.
Twenty-nine different languages spoken by students — different cultures, varied backgrounds.
In the sewing and design classroom at an after-school girls' leadership club, that diversity is seen in every stitch and felt in every piece of fabric.
The group is made up of a mix of Ohio girls and girls from all over the world.
Lia Lauban is an exchange student from the Philippines studying in America for a year. Students aren’t able to choose their placement location.
“Who would have thought I would be here in Ohio? Who would have thought I would meet these amazing people?” Lia said, smiling ear to ear.
Sophomore Safa Jabarkhil is originally from Afghanistan.
“I feel comfortable here, this is my comfort zone,” said Safa. “And when I have my hijab on, I feel like I’m safe.”
For millions of Muslims around the globe, the hijab, or headscarf, symbolizes safety, protection, and a sense of power.
So through a grant from the Lakewood Rangers Education Foundation, this group was able to create a custom fabric and make these Ranger hijabs, complete with their mascot.
They’ll be available in the Ranger Shop at the high school — next to hoodies and hats with the school's logo.
It's a simple gesture with a much deeper meaning.
“It’s sort of the day-to-day work that you do to make people feel welcome, to make people feel a part of,” said teacher Lisa Shaffer-Gill.
So many students want to wear their school pride on their sleeves, literally.
“I have a whole drawer in my room full of Lakewood gear. shirts, pants,” said student Zayna Muntaser.
Now they get to show that school pride off in a different way that is unique to them.
“Because it is my school, and I get to show that I’m a Lakewood Ranger and I’m wearing my hijab,” Safa said.
The district tells us they pride themselves on this type of diversity and inclusion.
They’ve added books to the libraries that are more representative of all students, added courses on Native American and Black history in addition to courses on Race & Diversity and Diversity in Literature, and have a parent support group for LGBTQ+ families.