We Are North Middle Celebration And Talent Show

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Anuleka Ganguli created this display about India to help educate members of the community about her culture.
Anuleka Ganguli created this display about India to help educate members of the community about her culture.

By Haley Raphael

“I want to go to Korea now!” shouted a middle school student across the room.

Anuleka Ganguli’s India display and stand
Anuleka Ganguli’s India display and stand

While one may think that this was just a childish request that was unlikely to happen in a matter of mere seconds, in reality, this student’s wish was granted, as she was attending North Middle School’s first We Are North Middle Celebration and Talent Show.

At the cultural heritage celebration, Italy was one of the 72 countries represented with a display. This one was put together by two North Middle teachers and included a poster of facts about the country, family mementos and homemade Italian cookies.
At the cultural heritage celebration, Italy was one of the 72 countries represented with a display. This one was put together by two North Middle teachers and included a poster of facts about the country, family mementos and homemade Italian cookies.

The event, which took place on May 25 at North Middle School and was open to the public, consisted of an hour-long cultural heritage celebration featuring stands with food and artifacts representing specific countries, followed by a student talent show.

At the event, participants received “passports,” which they were able to have stamped at each country they visited.
At the event, participants received “passports,” which they were able to have stamped at each country they visited.

North Middle’s Shared Decision Making Committee Parent Chairperson Anuleka Ganguli, who’s also the parent of a seventh grader at the school, was the primary organizer of the event. The committee had been thinking of creating a schoolwide event to foster unity between the students and the community. Ganguli said that this idea was perfect because Great Neck “is a very diverse neighbor-hood, and students should learn to appreciate and celebrate that.”

A student stamps her “passport” in Korea.
A student stamps her “passport” in Korea.

This event has been in the making for many months. In January, committee members started to meet monthly to coordinate volunteers and activities.

This is one of the posters created by North Middle students in their social studies classes to prepare for the event.
This is one of the posters created by North Middle students in their social studies classes to prepare for the event.

According to North Middle Principal Gerald Cozine, the hardest—but most rewarding part—of the planning was “synchronizing all the different components,” like the stands, parents, students, teachers and community.

This is one of the posters created by North Middle students in their social studies classes to prepare for the event.
This is one of the posters created by North Middle students in their social studies classes to prepare for the event.

Due to his experience organizing a similar event at South Middle, Cozine helped bring this event to North Middle relatively quickly. However, unlike South Middle’s event, the student talent show was incorporated into this event as well. Cozine said that they chose to combine the events because many students usually perform cultural acts, like Chinese yo-yo, in talent shows.

This is one of the posters created by North Middle students in their social studies classes to prepare for the event.
This is one of the posters created by North Middle students in their social studies classes to prepare for the event.

Seventh-grade science teacher Stefanie Oddo also helped with the event by creating the stand for Italy. Because she is a first-generation Italian, she was able to bring in a lot of artifacts for the display. She also baked Italian desserts to give out. Although she was willing to talk about all parts of her culture, she said that the “kids were mostly interested in the food.”

Despite this event only being in its infancy, it was successful in creating an environment where students, teachers and community members could interact and learn about each other, and their similarities and differences.

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Since 1908, the Great Neck Record has served the communities of Great Neck, Great Neck Estates, Great Neck Plaza, Kensington, Kings Point, Lake Success, Russell Gardens, Saddle Rock, Thomaston and the unincorporated areas as a source for local news and community events.

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