Last week, Rockfish River Elementary School got a global perspective as students enjoyed food from Poland, dances from Russia, crafts from Mexico and more.
On Nov. 21, Rockfish River Elementary School held its first-ever Evening of Many Cultures presented by the fourth and fifth-grade students. In the gym, parents, faculty, and staff gathered to watch students perform dances and song games from an array of different cultures, led by music teacher Morgan Robertson.
Isabel Ackman, a fifth-grader at the school, said she liked that everyone showed up to celebrate a variety of cultures.
“I like that everyone is here and we can be with each other to learn about different cultures,” Isabel said.
In the library, where Isabel sat with her friend and a guitar, other instruments from around the world were on display for children to play with and learn about. Next door, Robertson taught different dances and songs, and down the hall in the gym the smell of various foods and the opportunity to make “Gods Eyes” from Mexico, paper lanterns from Asia, or learn about Polish paper cutting drew a crowd.
Robertson said she had been teaching the students different songs and dances from other cultures and knew they were going to perform what they had learned, but then she thought, “What if we make it a big thing?”
“A lot of people stepped up to make it more elaborate than had it been just me alone,” Robertson said.
So, instead of having her students just perform, the faculty and staff got together and created the school’s first “Evening of Many Cultures.” Robertson said she hopes it’s something they can do every year now.
Robertson taught her fourth and fifth-grade students a folk dance from Russia and song games from Afghanistan, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Japan. The students performed what they had learned for everyone at the beginning of the big event.
“It went well. We had a few rounds of each game,” Robertson said.
The rest of the event was filled with foods from other countries the public could try, craft tables where students could learn different crafts from around the world, and musical instruments from different regions across the globe.
“We want to make sure our students are more open-minded,” Robertson said.
Isabel said she learned something she didn’t know prior to the event, such as there are many countries she didn’t know about and new games she hadn’t experienced before.
“Some people think it’s just them, but there are so many different cultures,” Isabel said.
Principal Crystal Choate said this first-time event, which they hope to continue, was organized for a number of reasons. Not only did they want to do more outreach to the community and families and get everyone more engaged with the school, but they are also working on ensuring the students are accepting of everyone.
“We have had instances where students weren’t being as accepting so we decided to highlight our differences,” Choate said. “We want the kids to come away with a renewed understanding and acceptance of each other.”