NCHS celebrates culture, diversity

An area high school honored diversity in the classroom Friday with a celebration of dancing, food and crafts.

Students visited most of the world's continents and tasted unique food, without having to leave school grounds or step on a plane.

Newton-Conover High School held its fourth culture fair Friday in the school's gymnasium, where students learned about the different nationalities represented by their classmates.

"Every flag and country you see (at the fair) is represented by someone in this school," said NCHS teacher Melanie White.

The Spanish and African-American clubs organized the fair, and White said they spent about two months preparing and planning for the event.

Students spent Thursday setting up various tents inside the gymnasium to house the displays representing each continent in the world.

Within each tent, students prepared foods representative of each country's culture, from spaghetti to rich desserts and bread.

The fair was available for all NCHS students and was open until 1 p.m. Friday to allow everyone an opportunity to participate.

Each attending student received a passport to present at each "continent" they visited during the fair. Students answered questions relating to the countries they visited within the continent and received a stamp on their passport at each location.

Senior Beth Rudisill served cups of spaghetti and marinara sauce to fellow students at the fair, and she enjoyed learning about different cultures while organizing the event.

"It's important for students to learn about different cultures, and it's been fun doing it," she said.

Other countries represented at the culture fair include South America, Mexico and Canada.

White said students prepared food themselves and relied on community and parental support to provide plastic utensils and other paper products needed during the food distribution.

"(Students) got to taste different foods and experience different cultures," White said. "It was a good experience."

Thornton Elementary School students also attended the fair Friday morning to watch a traditional Hmong dance, which students performed while in costume.

The dancers wore traditional costumes with brightly colored trim and metal coins that chime as dancers move.

The dancers said they were happy for an opportunity to showcase their talent and culture to people who might not be familiar with Hmong culture.

"I want people to see how Hmong people are and how we celebrate," said Rosemary Moua, one of the Hmong dancers.

Students also experienced dancing from the Mexican culture as they danced the merengue.

White also let students take turns attempting to hit a brightly colored pinata strung over a basketball goal in the gymnasium.

"It's something different," said senior Kiana Martinez, of Friday's culture fair. "This is something everyone should experience."