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Posted: March 4, 2019

Celebrating Cultural Diversity at La Cueva High

The third annual International Night drew a huge crowd.

Students in modern language classes at La Cueva High School displayed projects and made presentations to celebrate their community's cultural diversity during the school's third annual International Night.

International Night is sponsored by the LCHS Modern Language Department. German teacher Cathy Gamble explains the event. 

Why host such an event?

The students at La Cueva – and all over the district – are a sea of diversity. While it is commendable that we have the institutional recognition of three languages (Spanish, French, and German) and cultures they represent, the teachers in the Modern Language department saw a need to provide opportunities to recognize and celebrate more cultures than our three languages represent. In our classes, we have students from a wide range of countries -- the Philippines, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, South Korea, China, Greece, Mexico, Italy, Russia, and Serbia, to name a few – and we wanted to officially recognize and celebrate students’ home cultures and other cultures of interest.

Learning about the diversity in the world and seeing the multiculturalism that exists within our own student body is perhaps a first step in building a more educated, respectful, and curious group of citizens, who will take that respectful curiosity and desire to understand with them into their futures.

 What is the assignment?

The heart of the assignment is to learn, create and share, and that can take a variety of forms. Some students choose to create a display with images and written information that will help them to educate others. Some students choose to research and prepare significant foods from a region. Other students choose to research and wear traditional clothing, and still others perform culturally significant performance pieces. This year was very diverse. To name a few examples, we heard a Filipino love song, a Russian piano prelude, and a Serbian accordion piece, and we saw dances from Mexico and Ireland.

Who participates and how do they prepare?

All students enrolled in modern languages at La Cueva participate. Their preparation depends largely on their choice of projects but generally includes learning, creating, and sharing. Preparation can range from creating a display to preparing a regional dish to rehearsing and performing a song or dance.

Our teachers, mostly Spanish teacher Oriana Pino-Pleil, also help to organize the fashion show segment of the evening, the talent show portion, and our special guests, a local band called Baracutanga.

Ours is a truly collaborative event. Representatives from the music and drama departments help us by providing things like the stage for the fashion show and the music stands for the performers, and community member Michael Wile is a photographer who photographs our event free of charge. Student representatives assist by making flyers, producing brochures, and creating laminated flags and signs for the countries. We also rely on the support of our facilities principal, Mr. Hubbell, as well as our custodians. 

Anyone who wants to participate is welcome! This includes but isn’t limited to faculty, parents and other family members, former students, and current students who are not in a language program.

Who are the teachers?

Our project includes all of the Modern Language department teachers. Our Spanish teachers are Noelia Anoz, Melinda McKinley, Gina Morales, and Oriana Pino-Pleil. In French, we have Virginia Rinaldi, and in German, we have Cathy Gamble. Our assistant principal Brett Rimer is also one of our greatest champions.

Final Reflections

This is a project of tremendous proportions, which requires effort and creativity by our students, organization from the teachers, and the support of our school community. Students who may not otherwise be involved in school activities have an opportunity to shine, and students form lasting friendships as a result of their intercultural collaboration. Students and their families regularly report that this is one of their favorite nights of the year and that they are honored to have their culture recognized in the school. Other families learn about our cultural diversity and are impressed with the opportunity to meet the international community within our school.

Enjoy this slideshow of photos from the event courtesy of Michael Wile.