Laurel High School has a diverse population of students and staff that represent 40 countries and even more languages. On Nov. 30, students, parents, area guests and staff members filled the Laurel High auditorium to celebrate the school's many cultures and enjoy the music, dance and fashion of four continents at International Night. The celebration closed out a series of activities for what the United Nations had designated as International Month.
The school's Intercultural Committee, led by science teacher Rima Garg, from India, developed events throughout the month, including Traditional Dress Day for students, an international luncheon for staff and a world doll display.
In addition to Garg, committee members included ESOL teacher Kathleen Murphy; science teachers Kenneth Barrie and Jonalyn Sasa; Spanish teachers Sonia Silas and Francois Kouo; media specialist Lizzy Kwende-AchiriMofo;, Special Education teacher Mercy Olumoya; child growth and development teacher Neyla Rivera; school nurse Muriel Essell-Crentsil; and retired ESOL department teacher Marjorie McCoy.
To prepare for International Night, students in the Spanish Honor Society, the Asian Students Association and impromptu groups from Africa, Korea and the Philippines polished their dance shoes and worked out their routines, and singers from Nigeria and the United States rehearsed their scores. Two days before the performance, Vietnamese student Czarina Joy Flores stepped forward and became the show-stealing singer of the National Anthem.
In the opening ceremony, members of the Laurel High JROTC presented the colors, and school staff and community representative held a ceremonial lighting of an oil lamp.
Before the performance program, audience members enjoyed gift vendors and multicultural refreshments in the auditorium lobby. Among the offerings were hand-painted henna tattoos, called mendi; handmade wreaths and teddy bears; gourmet cupcakes; Indian-made samosas; pizza; and hot drinks such as Asian chai, Mexican cocoa and American apple cider.
Information provided by Laurel High science teacher Rima Garg.