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Celebrating multicultural heritage at Bergen Meadow Elementary

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By Sandy Barnes

Dancing the polka and listening to melodic Mexican music, youngsters at Bergen Meadow Elementary School were soaking up international culture while having a lot of fun last Wednesday.

Parents of students in kindergarten through second grade also took park in the first Heritage Cultural Celebration at the school, with activities provided just for the older set.

“Parents chose to represent a culture they are knowledgeable about,” said Danielle Askinazy, a Jeffco ESL teacher who planned the event.

During the event, parents taught children how to write their names in Korean, helped them make Puerto Rican maracas, and gave Brazilian-style martial arts instruction. The kids also looked at Native American artifacts and made Guatemalan worry dolls using twist-ties.

“The parents were wonderful,” said Askinazy. “They came up with all the ideas.”

The highlight of the celebration was a performance by the Talisman Trio, a mariachi band that played traditional tunes, including “La Bamba” and “Guantanamera.”

Singer Juan Ordonez explained to the students that mariachi music originated in central Mexico and that the traditional dress of the musicians reflects Spanish heritage and culture.

After listening to the rhythmic music for a while, the students got up and danced around the auditorium, dressed in a cultural variety of costumes from Hawaiian to Irish.

Cultures and countries represented at the event were South Korea, the Ukraine, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, Ethiopia, Brazil, Canada, Poland, Mexico and Native American.

While she coordinated the event, Askinazy said it was a collaborative effort inspired by Bergen Meadow principal Peggy Miller. Local Girl Scout troops also participated by creating posters to publicize the celebration, which honored the diversity of international cultures, said Askinazy.

“The students were having a great time,” she said. “Everybody was glowing that day.”

Contact Sandy Barnes at sandy@evergreenco.com.