West Hartford’s Norfeldt Elementary School hosted a celebration of its culture on Feb. 9, 2023.
By Genna Giammatteo and Gunjan Sharma
On Thursday, Feb. 9, from 5:30-7:30 p.m., Norfeldt elementary school held its Celebrate Norfeldt event. Back after a three-year, COVID-related hiatus, this event highlighted and celebrated cultures and communities, irrespective of country affiliations.
Celebrate Norfeldt is a highlight at our school,” Norfeldt Principal Jen Derick said. “This event showcases our diversity and our unique cultural backgrounds. It educates our students about various countries, communities, and traditions.”
Parent-student teams from 13 countries put on special displays, each featuring a unique game, cuisine, and souvenirs. At the event were also community groups such as Norfeldt’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion committee, and Student Council which sold seeds as part of its three-step platform to improve community environment.
Julie Bretton, ESOL specialist at Norfeldt and Bugbee, created an informative presentation that informed us that many more than 12 languages are spoken at Norfeldt. Ken Blanchard and Mila Komitov-Ku, parents of fourth and fifth graders at Norfeldt, hosted a diverse family structures booth that informed the community about the many different types of family structures. Also hosting a table was the West Hartford Immigrant Teens Group, whose mission is to create a safe, engaging space for immigrant teens.
In the days leading up to the event, every student in Norfeldt received a passport booklet. At the event, students took a trip around the world, getting their passport stamped at each country table.
The highlight of the evening was a talent show featuring dances, instrumental performances, songs, and poems performed by Norfeldt students. The evening ended with a cultural walk – a parade of students wearing diverse dresses and cultural uniforms from around the globe.
Fourth grade teacher Gabby Sebastiao emceed the talent show. The entire event was co-organized by Gunjan Sharma (who is also PTO President at Norfeldt), and Zobia Shakil.
“Events such as Celebrate Norfeldt are a great way to bring the community together after the pandemic, and to allow diverse voices to be heard,” Sharma said. “My daughter felt confident and secure enough to sing India’s national anthem during the talent show. I want to make sure that all families feel this sense of pride and confidence in sharing where they come from, and what they represent,” she added.
“Thank you to the PTO who coordinates this incredible event and to the families who bring it to life with their magnificent displays, activities, and cuisine,” said Derick.
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