Since its founding in 2003, Cascades Academy has fostered an inclusive school culture which respects the unique experiences, beliefs, and contributions of each member of its community. This commitment has permeated all areas of the school, including school program, operations, and governance.
The school's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee includes students, faculty, staff, and trustees. Along with feedback from the community, the Diversity Committee helped draft the school’s diversity statement, as follows:
Cascades Academy seeks to create a safe, nurturing community where we honor our unique selves, embrace the diverse perspectives and backgrounds of others, and promote social responsibility both within the school and beyond.
Each division promotes multicultural competency through a variety of ethnic, cultural, religious, and historical curriculum offerings. In the Upper School, this is evident in required humanities courses including World Religions, History of Human Rights Violations, European Studies, and Latin American Studies. In addition, the integrated studies, place-based curriculum deepens cultural competency. The middle school curriculum includes World History, Ancient World History, and Global Geography. In Lower School, students explore diversity topics through the Storyline program. For example, the “Mexico” Storyline invites students to travel by bus throughout Mexico to learn about the country's history, geography, and customs. During the “Amazon Rainforest” Storyline, in addition to forest ecology, students explore cultural and environmental topics.
Across all divisions, students read literature that represent diverse beliefs and cultures, and teachers choose literature by authors of diverse backgrounds. Spanish courses include in-depth study of Latino culture in addition to the Spanish language.
Throughout the school calendar, the school celebrates and educates students and faculty about important multicultural events and topics, which have included:
- Professional development on gender identity
- "Uniquely You" all-school assembly
- Screenings of documentary films The Mask You Live In and Miss Representation
- National Geographic photographer/speaker presentation to students and community
- World Map Celebration
- Screening and discussion of The Blindside by the Student Diversity Committee
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. all-school assembly
- Invisible Knapsack activity led by the Student Diversity Committee with upper school students
- Attendance of NWAIS Diversity Leadership Conference by middle school students
- Day of the Dead Celebration
- Middle school and upper school discussion of happiness with director of documentary film Happy
- Black History Month curriculum in upper school humanities course
- Attendance of World Muse Women's Conference by upper school students
- "Diversi-Tea" event where buddies shared poems on diversity over a cup of tea
- World Cultural Diversity Day Luncheon where buddies shared foods from around the world and enjoyed music from Indian origin
An important part of creating a diverse school culture is found in the formation of a safe learning environment that embraces free and open inquiry. To that end, all teachers are committed to open discourse throughout their curriculum in a manner that allows students to share alternative views in a respectful environment.
Another part of the school’s culture is a strong commitment to each individual student and his/her unique needs or interests. This might take the form of significant schedule flexibility with competitive athletes, designing elective courses around student interest or simply helping a student pursue a passion or interest with some additional assistance from the school i.e. starting a Star Wars club or Quidditch team.