Evergreen ParkElementary School District 124

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Southeast celebrates diversity on Cultural Day

When Southeast School Principal Alice Spingola refers to an event as “one of the best” in her long tenure at the school, you know it’s something special.

That is the way she described SE’s Cultural Day on Jan. 19, which celebrated the many cultures of its students with a wide variety of programs and activities.

The festivities began with five live performances from different parts of the world and continued as students visited a “museum” in the gym that featured a variety of student-made research projects on foreign countries. Students also had the opportunity to speak with District parents that have previously lived in other countries.

One of the favorite stops students made with the Southeast passports was in Ireland. Bernie McDermott, a parent in the District who grew up in Ireland, brought an accordion that she let the students play. There was a line for most of the afternoon of students waiting to play the accordion. 

SE fifth grader Ruby Castillon described the overall experience of Cultural Day as “amazing.”

“It was fun that the parents were able to participate, to show where they came from. That was cool,” she said. “I enjoyed learning about all of the other countries.”

EPSD 124 Superintendent Dr. Robert Machak attended the event and was proud to see the students enjoying themselves throughout the fun-filled event, which doubled as a great learning experience.

“The recognition and appreciation of the different cultures that make up District 124 is a cornerstone of our new Strategic Plan. This event is a great first step," he said. "I am so incredibly proud of the Southeast School community and the way everyone came together to celebrate one another.”

The daylong celebration was organized by Southeast’s Cultural Committee, which includes: Isela Andrade, Melissa Domenech, Amanda Ewert, Elizabeth Foertsch and Cindy Lullo. The group established the event as a way to embrace, respect, and open students’ minds to new experiences, according to Andrade.

“Learning about other cultures, languages and traditions aside from our own opened a window of curiosity for our students to seek adventure and discovery,” she said. “Being culturally aware is a wonderful way to promote inclusion within the school, as well as the outside community.”