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'Nationality Day' honors cultural differences



Published: Sat, April 13, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The event has beenongoing forseveral years.

By JOHN W. GOODWIN JR.

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

POLAND -- America has been called the Great Melting Pot and the variety of food, dress, culture and tradition on display at one area elementary school showed how befitting that title really is.

McKinley Elementary School had "Nationality Day" Friday, a day when faculty and pupils celebrate the many cultures found in the school.

Each participant dressed in heritage-specific clothes and brought in a covered dish and recipe specific to his or her own background.

Sixth-graders Brittany Baum, Jaime Fazzone, Christina Noll, Lisa Sofocleous, Lauren Verzilli, Sarah Rhein and Christie Baker -- all 12 -- have a friendship that has spanned the elementary school years.

Friday, they looked as if they came from different parts of the world.

Here's the goal: That ability to maintain friendships and respect for other people despite cultural differences is part of what organizers are hoping pupils take away from events like Nationality Day.

Organizer Linda Angelo, dressed in an outfit that could encompass several cultures, said the dress and food are intricate pieces of a culture that will allow pupils to embrace their own culture as well as those around them.

"I am like the Heinz 57 variety, a little German, Swiss, French, Irish, just a little everything," she said. "We want them [pupils] to see that everyone has something unique to offer the world."

Pupils began preparing for the annual celebration in January by studying the culture they represent and a research paper detailing their findings. Pupils also collect artifacts specific to their heritage.

By the time Friday's celebration came around, most pupils could explain what the outfit means and when it is used.

Costumes explained: Jared Brauer, 13, said his Greek dancer costume is considered more formal attire used during festivals and receptions. Like many pupils, Jared's background includes more than one culture, but Greek was chosen because the family routinely does Greek activities.

Katie Krumpak, 12, was dressed in a Swedish St. Lucia outfit -- a full-length white gown and head wreath with candles -- that she said is traditionally worn in December by the oldest daughter of each family while she cooks and serves bread to the household.

But Katie brought Swedish meatballs instead of bread to the event to be added to the more than 200 dishes of recipes from around the globe.

Parents, teachers and pupils spent the afternoon sampling the assortment in the cafeteria.

Recipes for each dish were compiled into a cookbook that was given to each pupil at the end of the day, compliments of the PTA.

Everything from suet pudding, which is made in a coffee can, and Cherokee chicken to German beer soup -- yes, add one can of beer -- is included.

There were also painted flags from each of the 31 countries represented, all hanging beneath or slightly lower than the much larger stars and stripes of the United States.

jgoodwin@vindy.com




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