By Haley Raphael
“I want to go to Korea now!” shouted a middle school student across the room.
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.
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.
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.”
This event has been in the making for many months. In January, committee members started to meet monthly to coordinate volunteers and activities.
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.
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.
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.