Heritage Day at Ottoson Middle School Honors and Shares the Community’s Diverse Cultures

On the morning of February 16, OMS students had the opportunity to learn and celebrate the diverse cultures in their school community during the second annual Heritage Day. The event, hosted by Ottoson international students, families, and staff, featured 10 stations where volunteers enthusiastically shared information about their countries of origin. Catalunya, Korea, Ukraine, France, Uzbekistan, Mexico, India, Bangladesh, Japan, Brazil/ Portugal were all represented. Three stations, Japan, Mexico, and Ukraine, were created and hosted entirely by students. Students also helped to host most of the other stations alongside staff members and parents.

Each station reflected the individual personalities and cultures of the host(s). Visitors to the Uzbekistan station learned about the international population of this unique and hospitable country due to its location along the Silk Road. The hosts of the India station offered attendees the opportunity to dress in traditional clothing and make woodblock prints. The Catalunya table was particularly popular due to the opportunity to make your own "poop log" (a Christmas Eve tradition).


The Heritage Day Committee members–Library Specialist Judy Uffer, Librarian Jennifer Lauchlin, Multilingual Learner (MLL) Teachers Jessica Pulzetti and Kalina Akeson, 8th Grade Vice Principal Michelle Crawford, Math Support Teacher Shukti Fischl, and Special Education Teacher Arafat Kotsuri–placed questions at each station such as “How is school different in your heritage country as compared to the U.S?" that could be used to get the conversations started. 


The event supplemented the World Cultures theme that English Language Learner students completed this fall, as well as the Global Studies curriculum. The 8th grade Civics teachers were quick to sign up their classes for the event as well!


This year’s Heritage Day was even more exciting than last year, since each table included an interactive component. Ms. Pulzetti reports that "hundreds of students attended the event!" and that they were "enthusiastically participating in the activities planned by the station hosts. These included a pick-up-sticks game at the Korea station, and learning Portuguese phrases at the Brazil/Portugal station." The format kept the attendees moving around and interacting directly with local immigrant families, and both elements enhanced the learning experience.


Another addition to this year’s event was a vibrant international playlist coordinated by Ms. Akeson with help from the MLL students. Next year, it is hoped that dancing can be added, as well as some international games and sports that the students can play in the gym.