Over 1,200 members of the Central Catholic High School community were awe-inspired when renowned Disney Artist and CCHS Parent Rob Surette recently performed his speed painting and inspirational speaking talents during a Cultural Diversity Day at CCHS.
Before Mr. Surette took the stage, senior Gabriella Reyes ‘19 set the theme for the event by speaking about her involvement in the student group SCOPE (Students Can Open People’s Eyes) and her own personal experiences with negative encounters concerning diversity.
“Our goal through SCOPE is to further develop a campus community that respects the dignity of each person,” said Gabriella. “When I came to Central as a freshman, I was used to being in a small middle school where everyone looked like me. I wasn’t used to being a minority, but it hasn’t stopped my love for Central. I have supportive friends and teachers who are willing to help and always have a positive attitude. I just know that I don’t want to be someone who tears people down - I want to build people up.”
Artist Rob Surette, whose daughter Makayla Surette '21 is a sophomore at Central Catholic, then took the stage and rapidly painted large canvases alongside a culturally-diverse video compilation set to music. The audience was surprised to see the end result of his quick work – detailed portraits of historical figures Abraham Lincoln, Mother Theresa, Albert Einstein, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He also showed previously completed portraits including Rosa Parks, Muhammad Ali, Gandhi, John Lennon and even Yoda from Star Wars.
“I’ve been to 4,000 schools and the ones that are diverse like Central Catholic are my favorites,” said Surette. “My presentation highlights a rainbow of people – a wide spectrum of heroes from around the world, and I definitely felt a greater appreciation for that from the people here.”
After his performance, Surette had a lengthy line of students waiting to take photos with the artist and particular pieces of art. Surette took time with each and every student waiting and offered advice to blossoming artists.
Surette’s performance was part of Cultural Diversity Days at CCHS (Feb.7-8, 2019) - a program that also hosted a variety of cultural foods brought in by students, faculty, and administration, as well as an opportunity to dress in clothing from one’s ethnic background.
Cultural Diversity Days was made possible by SCOPE (Students Can Open People’s Eyes)
SCOPE is a new student group at Central Catholic that supports multicultural students in their CCHS experience. Members of SCOPE build relationships with peers, develop cultural agility through intercultural interaction, and create a network of support for multicultural students at CCHS while maintaining and sharing their identity and cultural values. SCOPE members participate in special retreat days and additional social, positive and informative activities throughout the year.
A big thank you to Artist Rob Surette, student speaker Gabriella Reyes '19 and the SCOPE group for making Cultural Diversity Days a success!