102315-mis-nws-rauf-01 (copy)

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf shakes hands with students in Sentinel High School’s Arabic language class after he spoke to students in the theater in fall 2015. Rauf, an Islamic scholar from New York, was invited to speak in Missoula by the Montana World Affairs Council. The council returns this week for Sentinel's Diversity Week.

Sentinel High is returning to Diversity Week after several years off.

This is Diversity Week's 14th year, an annual event that runs alongside the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival. Some BSDFF films are shown at the schools, directors come to chat with students and a slew of programs and speeches are planned nearly every period throughout the week.

Over the past several years, Diversity Week has only been at Big Sky and Hellgate high schools. This year, Sentinel is coming back into the fold.

Sentinel last participated in Diversity Week in the 2010-2011 school year, though the school's Montana Behavioral Initiative team took over some events in spring 2013 and 2014. MBI is a statewide effort to create a culture of respect and teach alternatives to inappropriate behaviors in schools.

The Flagship Program runs the event at the other two schools, a program that's no longer at Sentinel. 

English teacher Jennifer Reinicke jumped on it this school year.

"After our Flagship person left, we just didn't have time to take it over," she said. "But we thought with the rise in hate speech and hate crimes, it was important to bring it back."

Sentinel shares Hellgate's theme: "Overcoming Conflict and Establishing Harmony."

Events planned throughout the week parallel those at the other schools, including a speech from Mayor John Engen. The Montana Historical Society, Missoula Rises, Progressive Veterans, the Montana Human Rights Network and more are headed to Sentinel.

The Montana World Affairs Council also will be at the school Wednesday and Thursday to talk about the global refugee crisis, ahead of a community discussion Thursday night at the DoubleTree Hotel.

Students got involved in the planning, as well. The Key Club is hosting a global potluck for the student body on Friday, bringing food from different countries. Student government will highlight music from around the world.

"I just think it's an important time to recognize that our differences make us stronger, and that's why we wanted to do this," Reinicke said.

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Reporter for the Missoulian