Representing and celebrating various cultures is vital to the school community at Excel Charter Academy. So vital, in fact, that they have a committee in place to ensure cultural events are held every year.
The Culture Committee, which consists of seven Excel staff members, organized the Parade of Nations and World Fair, which both aim to celebrate the cultures and backgrounds of their school community. For the Parade of Nations, 300 students represented 49 countries and walked in a parade throughout the gymnasium. Students proudly represented the country their family is from.
“The staff at Excel loves the parade each year because it represents how diverse and unique our school culture is,” said Kristin Zalewski, third-grade teacher at Excel. “The students participating love to show off their family's culture and the students watching love to cheer them on.”
Between the two events, several hundreds of families and parents were in attendance.
“We have a fantastic opportunity to celebrate different cultures at Excel with the diversity that we have,” shared Dan Bartels, principal at Excel Charter Academy. “We have 62 different countries represented in our student population, and there are 22 different languages spoken.”
For the World Fair, the gym was filled with food and performances, and eight classrooms displayed various countries. Students and their families were able to set up a booth that represented their country and display a large sign or flag showing which country they were representing. Some of the countries represented were Chad, Cuba, Greece, India, Kazakhstan, Poland, Somalia, Vietnam, and Wales, to name a few. There were four performances including a Mexican music performed by a local singer, a karate demonstration, a meditation demonstration, and African dancing.
Participants dressed up, made posters, brought in items and artifacts, made food to sample, or even gave a performance such as dancing, singing, or playing an instrument. Families that came to the event walked around with a "passport" and at each booth they went to they received a stamp for visiting that country.
“Celebrating diversity and different cultures is so important at Excel as everyone is valuable,” said Bartels. “One way to respect one another is to learn more about each other.”