Dancing from Mexico. Food from Lebanon. Stories from Russia. Flower necklaces from Micronesia.
For Welchester Elementary School students and their families, the world was at their fingertips during the school’s annual Multicultural Night on April 27. The entire school participated, as the older grades hosted exhibits in their classrooms and the younger students completed class projects beforehand.
Additionally, the school hosted a buffet-style dinner with Chinese, Mexican, Italian and Lebanese foods; folklorico dancers; a youth mariachi band and other games and crafts.
Overall, organizers said, at least 10 cultures were represented. That doesn’t account for the second-graders, though, who each picked a country to research.
Multicultural Night has become the school’s most popular event, drawing more than 300 attendees this year.
ESL teacher Sari Warburton-Pitt described how the event used to be formatted differently, and most participants were ESL students and families.
She added how the school wanted to draw more attendees, but “didn’t want the students to feel like they had to present on their own culture,” which would require more work.
But, this arrangement — now in its fourth year — makes Multicultural Night more of a school- or communitywide effort.
“Everyone does something,” she said, explaining how local businesses donated food, the staff and students prepared the exhibits and décor and the families showed their support by attending.
Multicultural Night features a different group of dancers each year. This time, Edgewater Elementary School's folklorico club dancers gave their first performance at Welchester.
Multicultural Night also hosted a mariachi band for the first time. The Colorado Youth Mariachi Program’s intermediate-level group, Mariachi Corazon Alegre, performed for a half-hour toward the end of the night.
Victor Becerra, who led the group, said the Colorado Youth Mariachi Program has performed at similar events before at schools and libraries. He felt the Welchester families made for a good crowd, saying he'd be happy to return for another Multicultural Night.