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Aiken’s International Night Celebrates School’s Diverse Community

Aiken International Night. Submitted photo

Several hundred people attended a festive International Night at West Hartford’s Aiken Elementary School on Monday.

Aiken International Night. Submitted photo

Submitted by Meredith Springer

On Monday, Feb. 25, Aiken Elementary School held its International Night, a long-standing school tradition that celebrates the cultural diversity of the Aiken community.

The evening’s festivities included informational booths featuring countries from around the world, an international potluck, entertainment, and a parade of nations. It’s estimated that nearly 300 people attended the event.

Aiken International Night. Submitted photo

Upon arrival, visitors picked up a passport before entering the gymnasium which was filled with exhibits highlighting approximately 15 countries. Students and their families staffed the booths and spoke with attendees about the represented country’s geography, history, customs, traditions, and more. Attendees also had the opportunity to answer fun trivia questions about the country, prior to getting their passports stamped.

In the cafeteria, teachers served up an assortment of foods from around the world.

Additionally, guests were treated to an interactive Capoeira demonstration by Motumbaxe Capoeira CT, as well as guest performers from Capoeira Brasil Connecticut. Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics, and music.

The night was capped off with a parade of nations, which began with a dragon dance featuring current and former Aiken students. The dragon dance was led by former Aiken parent, and King Philip Middle School Chinese language teacher, Zhengjie Guo. The parade also showcased students wearing traditional outfits and other clothing representing various countries.

This year’s event was led by Aiken PTO co-president Tina Provenzano. Loretta Whiting, who teaches English as a second language, and Linda Powers, who teaches Spanish, served as faculty sponsors.

“Aiken’s International Night is a collaborative effort of so many of our families and is a highlight of the school year,” said Provenzano. “Our students look forward to it because it gives them an opportunity to learn about the traditions and heritage of their fellow classmates in a fun and interactive way.”

Whiting, who has been a part of International Night since it began nearly six years ago, discussed how the event has evolved over the years. “It’s fun to see how this event has grown and changed since it first began, and how each year’s showcase provides a unique snapshot of the current Aiken community,” she said. “International Night is just one example of the wonderful diversity that is Aiken.”

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Aiken International Night. Submitted photo

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