A world of heritage at Memorial

A world of heritage at Memorial photo

On Wednesday, Feb. 28, Valley Stream Memorial Junior High School students celebrated the diverse cultures in their school at the annual Heritage Night. This event, coordinated by World Languages Department Head Haydee O’Connor, highlighted 23 countries and religions through international posters and displays, informational exhibits, traditional clothing, artifacts, dance, song, poetry and authentic food, all courtesy of students in honor of their own heritages.

Attendees toured the world in Memorial’s gymnasium as they visited various tables and learned about the featured regions. They also had the opportunity to participate in raffles and get henna tattoos. 

Numerous students spotlighted their roots through performances. Natalia Romero sang the salsa song “Vivir Mi Vida” by Marc Anthony, and Sidney Baires and Jacob Marinez danced a bachata. Andrea Pasinos, Nicole Tolentino and Kassandra Viasson danced the Philippine dance tinikling. Sayeda Sammi recited a Bangladeshi poem and Anna Lobach sang a Belarusian folk song.

Olivia Leone, Jacob Marinez, Lawrence Pasqual, Josiah Phillips, Mubarak Savage and Michaela Sinclair performed an Afro-Cuban rumba led by teacher Stewart Ratzken. The percussionists made use of congas, wood blocks, buckets and claves as they synchronized drum rhythms influenced by both Africa and Cuba.

Other countries and cultures that were spotlighted included Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, India, Italy, Jamaica, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Puerto Rico, South Africa and Trinidad/Tobago, along with the religion of Sihkism.

Heritage Night was part of Memorial’s Foreign Language Week, which took place from Feb. 26-March 2. Language is a valuable component of the Valley Stream Central High School District’s educational program and is emphasized at all four schools. Central, North and South high schools celebrate similar Foreign Language Week events each year.