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Exceptional Event

International Day or Multicultural Fair


Got the winter doldrums? Does January seem boring after all the hoopla of December? This month -- or any month, for that matter -- is a great time for an International Day or Multicultural Fair. "The kids absolutely love this event, and they are learning invaluable lessons," said principal Nina Reznich of Riverview East High School in St. Clair, Michigan.

At Riverview, each homeroom is assigned a different country. The students research the country and have eight school days to prepare a display and food. "In the past, we have had Jamaican huts and a castle (England)," said Reznich, adding, "A panel of judges is on hand to judge student displays and foods."

At Cedar Heights Junior High School, seventh graders team up with their language arts, geography, and science teachers to create a Culture Fair. Students produce a research project related to something important to their culture or arts interests. They write a report and create a visual representation of their project. "On Fair night, parents and family members are invited to view the students' projects and watch their presentations," said Patricia Green, adding, "This fair is a longstanding tradition at the school and usually attracts more than 300 people."

"We hold a multicultural fair each year where different cultures' foods, dances, dress, and languages are showcased," principal Dawn Neely told Education World. Of course, it helps that Hendrix Elementary's student body includes 18 distinct cultures. Each K-5 grade adopts a country, researches it, and decorates their hallway so that visitors "enter" different countries as they make their way through the building, said Neely.

"On the day of the fair, each student carries a 'passport,'" Neely added. "As they tour the countries, students write down facts they learn. Then they tour our multi-purpose room, where parents -- many dressed in native costume -- display items related to their countries of origin. Last year we had 30 displays."

Two school counselors, the student council, parents, and community leaders plan the fair, Neely noted. Due to health regulations, only vendors sell food at the fair. During lunch, students and parents perform on stage by dancing, singing, or playing an instrument native to their country. Families can also purchase T-shirts that read "Hendrix Elementary School Cultural Day, Our Accent Is On Excellence" on the front; the back has images of the flags of the 18 countries represented by students' families. All students and visitors wear nametags that indicate where they were born.

"It is a great day -- a time for our children, parents, and community to shine!" added Neely.