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(Chelsea Update would like to thank Adam Schilt for the information in this story.)

On Wednesday, May 17, ninth-grade students from Westside Academy (Detroit) and Chelsea High School will meet at Chelsea’s Washington Street Education Center for a student-led celebration of diversity and empathy.

“Breaking Barriers” is the culmination of a year-long pen pal project between students at the two schools. The project is designed to open lines of communication that transcend geographic and cultural barriers.

During the event, students will meet the pen pals with whom they have been

corresponding, play games together, engage in discussions about cultural and racial identity, and contribute to a multimedia project celebrating the value of diverse perspectives.

“This program began with the idea of exposing our students to voices they don’t normally hear,” said Ashley Monteleone, teacher at Westside Academy. “After seeing how excited our classes were about the project, it quickly evolved into something bigger.”

Adam Schilt, the teacher leading the effort at Chelsea High, said the letter exchange focuses on how teens from disparate backgrounds view issues pertinent to growing up in America today.

“Chelsea is just 60 miles away from Detroit,” he said. “Yet many of my students had never had a conversation with someone from that area before we wrote these letters.”

The event will begin around 10 a.m. and will wrap up at 1:00 p.m. Student-led discussion sessions and work on the multimedia project will begin just before noon.

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