December 19, 2022 -- Families at Woodward Park at Walden embrace cultural differences and ethnic backgrounds during the school’s first cultural celebration night.
“Our parents were having a hard time connecting due to the language barrier,” said Emily Oliver, Instructional Assistant. “We really wanted a positive way to connect with our families.”
The staff took immediate action, dusting off plans to host a culture night initially set to take place before the COVID pandemic.
“It’s important to host events like this,” said Jeanette Cuzzolini, secretary. “It brings the community, the students, and their families together.”
This year, the staff took a different approach to the event: inviting the students to lead the way.
“You never know what you’re going to get when it’s student-led, but that’s what makes it exciting,” said Ali Smith, school counselor.
The students and staff represented over 40 countries with tri-fold displays, performances, food, and more.
“Woodward Park is a global community,” said Paul Bailey, principal. “It’s our intention to make our students proud of their country of origin and to teach us something great.”
The night started with breakout sessions where translators guided families through discussions on school and district-related topics.
“Our hope was that families would walk away feeling more connected, understanding how our school works, and not feeling so intimidated by the school,” said Smith.
Among the families were various resources and agencies that exist in the local community.
“It takes a village,” Bailey said, as he spoke about the influence each parent, community partner, and staff member has in the students’ life.
Cultural celebration night allowed sixth graders to engage in diverse cultures and unique perspectives through mutual respect and open dialogue.
“What made this event so special was bringing all the cultural diversities together. Everyone was represented,” said Cuzzolini.
Bailey and the Walden team are in the works of planning for next year’s event to be bigger and better for people of all cultural ethnicities and backgrounds.