Gravette Upper Elementary hosts multicultural dinner
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.
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.