Gravette Up­per El­e­men­tary hosts mul­ti­cul­tural din­ner

Westside Eagle-Observer - - FRONT PAGE - SU­SAN HOL­LAND shol­land@nwadg.com

GRAVETTE — The an­nual mul­ti­cul­tural din­ner, with the theme “Cel­e­brat­ing Our Her­itage,” was held Thurs­day, April 5, at the Gravette Up­per El­e­men­tary School cafe­te­ria. Lively mari­achi mu­sic greeted guests as they ar­rived, and the room was col­or­fully dec­o­rated with clus­ters of bal­loons. Ta­ble dec­o­ra­tions and a ban­ner adorn­ing the front of the stage fea­tured flags from many na­tions. A video pre­sen­ta­tion pre­pared by stu­dents and show­ing details about the cul­ture of var­i­ous coun­tries was played on­stage.

Ruth Kennedy, English as a Sec­ond Lan­guage co­or­di­na­tor, wel­comed guests and thanked fam­i­lies who brought food for the potluck. She also thanked El Pue­blito Mex­i­can Restau­rant of Bella Vista, which pro­vided in­gre­di­ents for the taco bar and a large con­tainer of hor­chata, a drink made with white rice and milk and fla­vored with cin­na­mon, sugar and vanilla. Joy Kim, ESL co­or­di­na­tor for the el­e­men­tary grades and mi­grant co­or­di­na­tor, as­sisted Kennedy with hostess­ing.

One ta­ble held a col­lec­tion of cul­tural ar­ti­facts from sev­eral coun­tries and a dis­play of ojos de dios (God’s eyes) made by stu­dents in the Span­ish I, Span­ish II and ESL classes. Cassie Staats, sub­sti­tute Span­ish teacher, ex­plained that the cen­ter of the God’s eye is tra­di­tion­ally woven when a baby is born and cir­cles are added each year through the child’s fifth birth­day. The stu­dent-made cre­ations have been used to dec­o­rate the class­rooms.

Each fam­ily was asked to bring a dish that re­flected its cul­tural her­itage. Selections of­fered at the potluck meal in­cluded baked ziti and gar­lic bread, Swedish meat­balls, Ir­ish shep­herd’s pie, ar­roz con pollo (chicken with rice), tamales, tacos, Texas chili, chips and salsa. Cake was served for dessert.

After the meal, young­sters lined up to take turns at strik­ing a pinata. Each child was blind­folded and had a chance to hit the paper don­key filled with candy. A few pieces were knocked out here and there un­til, fi­nally, the pinata was de­stroyed and its con­tents scat­tered across the floor with chil­dren scram­bling to pick up the candy pieces.

En­ter­tain­ment was pro­vided by Al (Papa Rap) Lopez, of Rogers. He laid out a va­ri­ety of in­stru­ments on­stage, in­clud­ing mara­cas, bongo drums and tam­bourines, and in­vited young­sters from the au­di­ence to come be a part of his band. Lopez was also as­sisted by his friend Luis Vazquez of Spring­dale. Both Lopez and Vazquez are na­tives of Puerto Rico. They soon had the crowd on its feet, clap­ping and sway­ing to the mu­sic. The show en­gaged the au­di­ence with bilin­gual songs, fun drum play­ing and Caribbean salsa.

Lopez pro­vided “Wa­ter Fun Facts” col­or­ing books and a copy of his “Papa Rap’s Wa­ter Fun Facts” CD, pro­duced in co­op­er­a­tion with the Beaver Wa­ter District, for each fam­ily.

West­side Ea­gle Ob­server/SU­SAN HOL­LAND

Stu­dents line up and wait their turn at strik­ing the pinata at the GUE mul­ti­cul­tural din­ner Thurs­day, April 5, as one blind­folded young man pre­pares to take a whack at the col­or­ful, candy-filled don­key.

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