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Students were political canvassers, escape room artists, physicists, fashionistas, inventors, thought leaders, collaborators, activists, change agents, and boat builders, among many other identities, during Project Week 2019.

Celebrating Languages and Cultures

In the same amount of time it might take to present a short musical—about an hour-and-a-half—Lower School students in Grades K-5 dazzled the school community with singing, dancing, and poetry to celebrate World Language Week. As a tribute to cultures around the world, they prepared diligently with the help of teachers and parents to incorporate over 15 sets of performances into the pre-Spring Break event.

These performances, for which many students wore clothing of their culture, included Chinese children's songs; Brazilian, Colombian, Bollywood, and Hip Hop dances; African drumming; and songs in German, Italian, Hawaiian, and Hebrew. K-3 Spanish teacher Diana Fiore, who emceed, was particularly amazed by the Kindergarten students singing "We Shall Overcome" in five languages—English, Spanish, French, Hindi, and Chinese. Accompanying the students on guitar, Kindergarten teacher Judy Previti had been equally impressed by how quickly the students learned.

Music teacher Patty Finn also contributed two of her songs: "Hello to All the Children of the World" (greetings sung in multiple languages) and "Appreciating Differences" (based on a poem written by Graham Houghton '25 last school year, which points out how boring the world would be if there were only one type of everything). Themes in this year's poems, recited in multiple languages, included respect, the power of friendship, and the importance of each person being himself or herself.

"My heart is full!" says Assistant Director of the Lower School Dr. Sandy Lizaire-Duff P '25, who, with minimal involvement, oversaw the event, to let the teachers take ownership. "I love how our students embrace their own culture and celebrate each other. For students to recite a poem in their own language, in a safe space—that is wonderful, and they are unapologetically proud to be who they are, and proud of their culture." Dr. Lizaire-Duff hastens to add that the performing groups themselves were inclusive, with multiple cultures participating in each dance. The celebration provided an apt close to a week that included "a lot of classroom discussion about inclusion."

Supplementing the World Language Week Celebration were fourth- and fifth-grade heritage posters created in Sra. Matty Yorkshire's Spanish classes, and beautiful displays of clothing and other items to deepen the community's appreciation for the cultures represented at Pingry.

Original songs: Music teachers Emma Liu and Patty Finn

Choreography: K-3 Spanish teacher Diana Fiore, drama teacher Keara Gordon, and Megha Shah P '25, '28

African drumming led by Bashiru Mohammed P '19, '28

Contact: Greg Waxberg '96, Communications Writer