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School Festivals Focus on Traditions

Jul 01, 2016 08:59AM ● Published by Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | julie@mycityjournals.com


Two schools celebrated the end of the school year with annual festivals centering on traditions.

At Midvalley, the May 23 celebration was the school’s fifth annual cultural fair, and it attracted community members as well as students and their families.

“It helps us recognize the value of diversity in the world through food, music, dance and crafts,” Principal Jeff Nalwalker said.

Throughout the evening, students in each grade performed a traditional dance they had learned. Kindergarteners began with dancing to “It’s a Small World,” followed by second-graders doing a square dance. First-graders performed an Irish jig and third-graders showed a Russian folk dance. The fourth-grade class performed a line dance from Translyvania and the fifth-graders ended the evening performances with dances from New Zealand.

Jessica Ynda said it took her classes a couple weeks to learn the New Zealand dance.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Jessica said. “I like to learn about different countries.”

Her mother, Tammie, appreciated the fair.

“The students get to experience a lot of different cultures and become aware of the diverse community that supports them,” she said.

The fair included several country booths, where families shared some of their cultural traditions such as clothing, musical instruments, pictures and crafts from different countries, Parent-Teacher Association president Barbara Hake said.

“It’s an opportunity for our families to celebrate all the different cultures and traditions they have that make up our community,” she said.

That includes Brodi Ika volunteering to come each year to teach students the haka dance from New Zealand.

That’s why sixth-grader Lexus Jensen returned to the festival, to watch her favorite dance.

Her mom, Tori, said she liked that the kids learned about different cultures.

“They light up when they learn the dances, like the haka, and I like the spiritual meaning behind it,” she said.

Nalwalker said the food trucks included different ethnic foods.

In addition, there were two food booths to set up to help others: one sold hot dogs to raise money to help first-grade teacher Lydia LaPutka in her battle against breast cancer, and a local Girl Scout troop sold goodies to raise money to help with personal hygiene items for newly arrived refugees in the area.

Dances, crafts and food trucks were also at Copperview’s Living Traditions Festival on May 26, which about 700 students, family members and community members experienced.

“We have traditions in our school that were brought to us by families,” Copperview principal Chanci Loran said.

Among the dances were the kindergartners dancing the Macarena and first-graders performing the Chicken Dance.

A performance by resource teacher Kathleen Ware surprised students as she and her sister, Mary, did an acrobatic aerial performance 15 feet above the ground on purple silk ribbons.

“Many of our students didn’t know she did this, and in the hallways days afterward, I heard, ‘Did you know that she does more than reading? She performs in the air,’” Loran said.

Crafts were a big focus at the fair, as students could make Japanese paper fans used in Obon, a Buddhist custom that honors ancestors’ spirits, Loran said.

Students could also create paper flowers that are typically worn in Hawaii to symbolize marital status, or they could make leis, used to signify love, honor, respect and friendship.

The final craft was a paper mask symbolizing the Catholic Carnival season, which typically includes street parades and parties.

“We recognize our culture and diversity year-round. The festival focuses on traditions that can unite us as a community,” she said.  λ

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