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New Salem Elementary holds 2nd annual International Festival

New Salem Elementary staff members Janet McGarvie (Ireland), Juliet Banning (classroom teacher), Kerri Mosley (Switzerland), Amy Little (Japan), Cheryl Batten (Mexico), and Tammy Parker (USA) demonstrate the challenges of attending the first day of school in a multicultural classroom.

New Salem Elementary School held its second annual Community-wide International Festival Thursday, (March 24, 2011), featuring a parade of nations that starred about 25 students dressed in costume, representing various countries from around the world.

The event began around 6:30 p.m. with an assembly program for all participants in the school’s auditorium. "The theme for the event was “Wide World of Learning,” which supports the Union County Public School’s globalization mission by encouraging communication, acceptance, understanding and collaboration in a diverse, interdependent world," said New Salem Elementary principal Neil Hawkins.

The school's Academically Intellectually Gifted (AIG) students then narrated the video "Miniature Earth" that teaches about the current diversity of the world by shrinking the population down to a representative 100 people. "The highlight of the assembly program was an African dance and drum presentation by the Oneaka Dance Company from Charlotte, North Carolina," Hawkins said.

Following the assembly program, attendees were provided with a choice of five breakout sessions. The Global Storytelling session featured New Salem staff members Tammy Parker, Cheryl Batten, Kerri Mosley, Amy Little, Janet McGarvie and Juliet Banning. The storytellers demonstrated the potential trials of a multicultural classroom on the first day of school where the majority of the students spoke different languages and had various cultural beliefs.

Throughout the school year, students have created artwork that is representative of their focus country of study. The International Student Art Exhibit provided an opportunity for the community to enjoy these beautiful pieces of artwork. Providing music for the art exhibit was Susan Griffin who played the Irish Folk Harp.

A third breakout session was Wide World of Dance in which the New Salem Dance Club taught both students and parents how to dance the “Macarena.”

In a fourth breakout session, located in the school’s computer lab, families worked together to create and print their own family crest using an on-line program.

The final breakout option was an interactive session with the Oneaka Dance Company during which participants learned African dance steps and had the opportunity to play African drums. 

"This International Festival is just a small part of the school’s overall globalization focus," Hawkins said.

Last year, New Salem Elementary was recognized as an International School through the UCPS Global Schools program. Cuthbertson High School and Kensington Elementary were also deemed UCPS International Schools.

Written by: Neil Hawkins, New Salem Elementary principal
Posted: Mar 28, 2011 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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