School Will Host Cultural Festival

At Lemay Street Elementary School, it's a small world after all.

Today the school will host its fifth annual International Festival celebrating the cultural diversity of its students and the Valley population.

Students will perform various traditional dance numbers from cultures across the globe, including a Chinese New Year's dance and a polka straight out of the Czech Republic. The United States will be represented too, with a performance of the Charleston.

"We have a very diverse population," said Principal Connie Gibson. "It's our job as educators and parents to expose the students to the different cultures."

All day today, the smell of native dishes from Spain, Mexico, China and other nations will waft through the courtyard, under and around the brightly colored flags from various countries.

Gibson said raffle prizes include tickets to Magic Mountain, Disneyland and Universal Studios as well as gift certificates for area restaurants and businesses. All proceeds go toward purchasing books for an outdated library, she said.

"We can't have a '90s library filled with books from the '50s," she said.

Last year, the festival raised almost $2,000, all of which was used for books. Gibson said she hopes to raise the same amount this year.

"We usually get a good turnout with not only the students' parents but their aunts, uncles and other family members," she said. "It's truly a joyous occasion and a way for parents to show their children they care."

Today's festival, which is free and open to the public, runs from 9 a.m. to noon at the school, 17520 Vanowen St. in Van Nuys.

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