Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. is considering a two-way language-immersion program that could begin in pre-kindergarten starting in about a year.

If such a program is adopted, it would allow students to be bilingual and bi-literate, which Superintendent Jim Roberts said would be valuable to them.

Roberts was guest speaker at the eighth annual Columbus Area Multi-Ethnic Organization annual meeting on Wednesday at the Columbus Learning Center.

About 30 people attending the annual meeting heard Roberts talk about the Columbus-based school system’s efforts with cultural responsiveness and inclusivity regarding different cultures.

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Roberts said nearly 60 different languages are spoken among BCSC students, and top administrators are working to add more diversity in its workforce, which is about 98 percent white.

“We want our adult population to look like our student population,” he said.

With the diverse number of cultures represented, BCSC tries to ensure that everything it does is good for all students, Roberts said.

“Creating opportunities for them in the global marketplace will be outstanding,” Roberts said. “We have to see things through a different lens.”

He mentioned steps taken by administrators after negative comments during the school day were directed at a few minority students after the presidential election in November.

“We had some kids saying some things they shouldn’t be saying,” Roberts said.

The Columbus Area Multi-Ethnic Organization is hoping to develop five- and 10-year plans as part of its goals that also include re-establishing partnerships with various groups in Columbus, including the local public school system, said Tyshaun Allen, incoming vice president of the organization.

CAMEO has nine associations under its umbrella representing different countries or cultures — with about 700 local members in all.

Displays and food samples during the annual meeting were provided by associations representing countries such as India, China and Latin America.

Rajib Panda, project coordinator with CAMEO and an employee of Cummins, is a native of India and said his experience in the group has allowed him to meet people from diverse backgrounds.

He encouraged members of the public to learn more about the organization if they are interested in learning about different cultures within Columbus on topics such as food, family life and others.

“I find that people are so welcoming,” he said. “It’s very diverse and open to anyone. It’s a great opportunity to be with all different types of people.”

Cheng-Lin Hung, a member of the Columbus Chinese Association, came to Columbus three years ago from Taiwan for a job as a mechanical engineer at Cummins. Being involved with CAMEO has provided a valuable resource in meeting individuals from other cultures, Hung said.

Shannon McDonald, CAMEO webmaster, said the organization can provide assistance for individuals who may be new to Columbus or are interested in networking opportunities.

“We want them to feel welcome and that there’s things out there for them,” said McDonald, who was introduced to CAMEO through Tom Harmon, CEO of Taylor Bros. Construction Co.

“We’re not afraid to ask questions to better the community,” McDonald said. “That’s my favorite part is being involved and letting people know that Columbus is a welcoming community.”

During the meeting, Hanna Omar received the Benjamin “Mickey” King award for her efforts to make Columbus and Bartholomew a more welcoming community and called on others to get involved.

“If you want to get a taste of the diversity of Columbus, CAMEO is a great starting point,” Omar said.

Upcoming 2017 membership meetings

June 14: Pakistan Association

July: No meeting

Aug. 9: Trinbago Association

Sept. 13: Latin America Association

Oct. 11: Japanese Association

Nov. 8: Middle Eastern Association

Dec.: No meeting

All meetings are conducted at the Bartholomew County Public Library beginning at 6 p.m. and are open to the public.

New officers

CAMEO officers

President: Rajesh Garg

Vice president: Tyshaun Allen

Treasurer: Fei Du

Secretary: Rosa De La Cruz

Project coordinator: Rajib Panda

Webmaster: Shannon McDonald

About CAMEO

The Columbus Area Multi-Ethnic Organization consists of nine member associations.

  • Columbus African American Association
  • Columbus Chinese Association
  • Columbus Japanese Business Association
  • Columbus Korean Association
  • Columbus Latin American Association
  • Indiana Association of Columbus
  • Middle Eastern Association
  • Pakinstan Association
  • Trinbago Association

For more information on the Columbus Area Multi-Ethnic Organization, visit columbuscameo.org.

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Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or mkent@therepublic.com