International Night Highlights Cultural Diversity
El Segundo Unified Brings the World Together at ESMS
El Segundo, CA -- On an otherwise quiet Thursday evening, a cacophonous symphony of bells and stomps poured out the doors of El Segundo Middle School’s Bulldog Hall and into the quad. Inside, twenty elementary, middle and high school students moved rhythmically across the stage in festive and traditional Bolivian attire, dancing to the sounds of Cueca music. Spectators tested their sense of adventure, sampling and dining on a pot luck cuisine spanning five continents. After lapsing a year, El Segundo Unified School District’s International Night was back this past Thursday, January 31, much to the delight of the gathered families.
The evening began with a warm welcome from Jack Plotkin, Principal at El Segundo Middle School. Plotkin discussed the importance of biliteracy – the ability of students to attain fluency in two or more languages – and shared district efforts to promote bilingualism, including a Seal of Biliteracy award at the high school and a Pursuit of Biliteracy recognition at the middle school. He also shared information with parents about the district’s English Learner program before finally thanking Ms. Lupita Gutierrez whom he credited for all the legwork in organizing and setting up the event.
Gutierrez, an English Language Development para-educator for the district, announced over 40 families brought cuisine to the evening “pot luck,” ranging from Israeli couscous to Argentine empanadas to Ethiopian “wat” or stew. Diners first enjoyed a presentation of El Segundo and South Bay dancers from the Kelly School of Traditional Irish Dance, including nationally renowned young dancers from Richmond Street School.
Following the presentation, two young performers representing the Argentine Association of Los Angeles entertained the audience with Argentine folk dance and drumming. To round out the evening, twenty students adorned in traditional Bolivian dresses and caporal costumes danced tirelessly amongst one another as bells from their clothing and stomps of their feet filled the room.
“This was such a nice event,” School Board member Laura Gabel commented. “It’s so great to bring everyone together for such a festive celebration – and the performers were really good!” Fellow School Board member Jeannie Nishime attended the event for the first time and concurred with Gabel’s sentiment.
As music filled the room and parents chatted while kids chased each other around the tables, Plotkin shared his enthusiasm for the event: “I’m proud to have all of these cultures represented here and proud of these kids for sharing their talents with us.” Plotkin and Gutierrez are already in the planning stages for next year’s event.