Celebrating Atholton’s Diversity
Despite its small population of about 1200 students, Atholton is fortunate enough to have an extremely diverse student body.
As December approaches, the cultural clubs and organizations in the Atholton community are preparing once again for the Night of Cultural Diversity, which has taken place every winter for the past thirteen years, on December 15. The multicultural evening brings the community together for an experience like no other.
“Multicultural Night is a chance for students, parents, faculty, and the Atholton community to explore and discover the cultural diversity that exists within the student population at Atholton,” said Scott Levitt, Co-President of the Student Leadership Cadre, which is in charge of planning the event.
The event is a unique opportunity to learn about other cultural groups in the school. Each club is represented and is able to share pieces of their culture with other students, who might not be aware of how diverse Atholton actually is.
While the main attraction is the free food, the night consists of more than just that. Students perform songs, dances, and other cultural traditions, hoping to teach others more about their customs.
“What’s cool about it is that it is one of their classmates up there doing like a Hindi dance and you see a side of the students that you don’t necessarily see when they’re sitting at their desks,” said Mrs. Cassard, a French teacher at Atholton as well as the sponsor of the French Honor Society.
The Night of Cultural Diversity evolved as a result of the Multicultural Club, a club that no longer exists at Atholton. The Multicultural Club was started when there was only one cultural club in the school. Since then, a variety of different clubs have formed, like the Jewish Student Union, Muslim Student Awareness club, La Familia, and the Asian Student Union. Each of these clubs has its own display at the event.
“The Jewish Student Union has always set up a table with all kinds of Jewish foods like bagels, matza and kugal. It’s usually around the time of Hanukkah, so for several years we have done the blessing over the Hanukkah candles. One year we had a group of girls do an Israeli dance,” said Mrs. Towsend, sponsor of the Jewish Student Union.
Different groups arrive and bring food from their cultures, set up a table, and present some type of performance. The night presents many cultural groups that have unique customs not seen everyday.
“For us, it’s an opportunity to share what we have learned about French culture with the rest of the population of the school,” said Mrs. Cassard. “We tend to put out desserts like crème puffs and chocolate truffles. We have great desserts; people tend to swamp to our table.”
Jewish and French foods are not the only cuisines offered. There is also food from Asia, Central and South America, Europe, and Africa.
“You get there and you see all these tables set up that are presenting different cultural groups within the school,” said Mrs. Cassard. “It’s pretty cool because you didn’t realize there were so many kids from Burma, or there were so many kids from Korea, or Nicaragua. You don’t even realize that we have students for whom English is a second language and students who were born outside of the United States.”
The cultural groups always present many entertaining shows, but there are always the crowd favorites that students look forward to.
“I had a student who sang a song about peace in Portuguese with a ukulele, which was great…A young lady always does a Chinese yo-yo performance, which is always fabulous to watch. There are skits in a variety of different languages…Dr. Fradkin sings ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ in Latin with his kids—its great,” explained Ms. Chaudhry.
The Night of Cultural Diversity is a great opportunity of which everyone should take advantage.
“I hope they have fun. I hope they enjoy seeing the different cultures that are represented in the school and are aware of who embraces that culture,” said Mrs. Cassard. She also hopes that the students will “put themselves out there and maybe eat something that they don’t usually eat, or sit and watch a dance they wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to see.”
The night is a chance for Atholton students to embrace the different cultures that make up their community and learn more about their fellow students’ lives outside of school.
“The event shows how we as Atholton students are incredibly fortunate to be apart of such a diverse community,” said Asmi Panigrahi, one of the coordinators of the event. “There are opportunities to learn and explore, and simply enjoy so many different cultures.”