In a celebration of diverse countries and cultures, parents, students and staff at Holy Redeemer School thronged the campus blacktop Thursday for the annual United Nations Day festival. Now in its twelfth year running, Holy Redeemer School's U.N. Day is the culminating event of a schoolwide education project where students get to exhibit their chosen country's traditional music, dance, food and facts.
â€œThis tradition began 12 years ago when I became principal,â€ said Principal Susan Fite. â€œI thought it would be nice for our students to learn more about geography of the world as well as customs and traditions of other cultures. There is a national celebration of U.N. Day, I believe in October, but it didn't work into the school schedule so we celebrate in the spring.â€
In preparation for the event, each grade selected a country to study. This year's choices included the Netherlands, Fiji, Monaco, Panama, Greenland, Korea, Nepal, Brazil and the Dominican Republic.
â€œWe made newspapers about different categories like food religion, language, history and dance,â€ said fourth-grader Alexa Salvo, dressed in her Korean costume as she waited on the blacktop with her classmates for their turn to perform their traditional dance. â€œThen we put [the information] in a binder so it's at our booth. And we learned the fan dance. We practiced a lot!â€
Early Thursday morning, parent volunteers set up booths with the crafts, decorations, food, flags and informational poster students had prepared for their particular country. Students, staggered by grade, visited the booths in a â€œsnake walkâ€ parade collecting information about the countries represented. After the morning snake walk, a crowd of parents gathered to watch the colorful pageant of traditional dance and music performed by the students.
â€œIt's a great idea,â€ said parent Suzanne Keogh as she waited for the performing to begin. â€œEvery year they do this and they get to experience and dress up as a different country, probably not what the country would wear now, but traditionally. My daughter's a first year kindergarten. She's doing the Netherlands.â€
At the conclusion of the dancing, all were invited to wander the globe, one booth at a time, for an international food sampling experience and photo opportunities to document the trek.