School showcases cultural diversity

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From Afghani and Mexican food to Japanese calligraphy to cowboy roping, the International Multicultural Festival at Thornton High School offered students and families a chance to experience the diversity of their community in this inaugural event.

The April 27 event attracted more then 250 people, something that 16-year-old Angela Abraham, who spearheaded the event, made her proud.

“I wanted to celebrate the fact that we do have diversity because I feel it’s not something we celebrate enough,” said the junior. “It was just a day to have fun and be united as one.”

The free event featured Indian and Hmong dancing, food booths featuring meals from Mexico, Afghanistan, Lebanon and India, Japanese calligraphy demonstrations and even cattle roping to showcase the American heritage.

“I think THS gets short changed: People hear ‘diverse school’ and think it is only about speaking Spanish,” said Kristen McCloskey, teacher/librarian at the high school.

“Yes, Thornton High has a lot of people, staff and students, who speak Spanish. But we also have traditions, cultures, roots, pride and passion about who we are, where we come from and where we are going. The Multicultural Festival is just one way we can celebrate being Thornton Trojans.”

McCloskey was just one of many people who helped Abraham put together the festival. The event idea came about when Abraham was thinking of a project to do for the International Baccalaureate Program. At about the same time, the Parent-Teacher Student Organization was considering the idea, said Michael Kilduff, an English teacher at the high school.

“This was very exciting to me as I want the ‘S’ part of PTSO to be more involved,” he said. “(Abraham) had a lot of great ideas and was instrumental in getting this going.”

Although the event was fun, Abraham said it was a learning lesson for her, too.

“It’s funny how different every cultural is from each other — different food, clothing, rules — but as a whole, we’re not all that much different,” she said.

She gave the example of rice and how it is used in many custom dishes from all over the world and three countries/cultures represented at the festival — Mexico, Afghanistan and India.

Abraham said she would do whatever it takes to bring the festival back next year and hopes to expand it by including other schools and getting more performers involved.

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