Parents, students and teachers revelled in St Thomas More’s Catholic School Brighton-Le-Sands’ first Cultural Diversity Day celebrations.
The event on June 23 recognised the 53 cultures represented among the school’s 207 students.
Parents made an abundance of food from their various cultural backgrounds including hommus, tabouli, pasta, pizza, kangaroo meat, felafel, Spanish omelette, Indonesian yellow rice, spring rolls and Welsh cakes.
Leftover food was donated to the Matthew Talbot hostel in Woolloomooloo, run by the St Vincent De Paul Society to provide accommodation to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
Principal Jennifer Frost said the event was a wonderful way to acknowledge the diversity of the school community, which includes families from South American, Lebanese, Egyptian, Italian, Greek, Thai, and Maori backgrounds.
“The parents have really embraced the day,” she said. “The students were very inquisitive as to what culture’s clothing each other were dressed in and asked a lot of questions. It has been absolutely terrific.”
English as an Additional Language or Dialect (EALD) teacher and event organiser Caitlin Rayner works with students in need of language support on Mondays and Tuesdays each week.
“We had a beautiful prayer at assembly followed by a parade,” she said. “Watching the faces of the children and the parents was the best part. They really loved it. Sometimes the fun is taken out of school because it’s so serious and there are so many things to do and so much pressure put on academic things, so it’s wonderful that they are having so much fun.”
Sonia Naumovski and Lisa Gamlin contributed to the event. Students were also treated to an impromptu belly dancing lesson by mother Vian Pikios.
Sonia said parents had visited the classrooms and taught students the words for numbers and colours in other languages. Her daughter Sienna, in Year 2, learned about Colombia and wore an Italian costume, her son Lucas, in Year 6, wore an Italian football jersey.
“It’s great to see the diversity within the school and the amount of children that are from different backgrounds,” Sonia said. “It’s amazing for the kids to share the food from other cultures as well. It’s a great day.”
Lisa Gamlin’s sons Joseph, in Year 6, and Charlie, in Year 1, wore Welsh costume and an Australian flag. She said the day provided students with an opportunity to extend their palates.
“Everybody likes pizza,” she said. “We tried to get them to go to the other end of the table because there were an abundance of other foods there to try.”
“I don’t think the school realised until they sat down and thought about it how many different cultures and nationalities are within the school. That’s just going to grow.”
Siblings Anthony, Kiara, and Kaleb McGregor showed their Maori heritage with face paint and elaborate costumes made by their father. Year 1 student Anthony said his favourite part of the day was performing New Zealand folk song Epo i tai tai e for the other students.
Year 5 student Nia Midikiria wore Kenyan costume, while her classmate Nattarene Yupongchay wore traditional Thai costume.
“It was interesting and fun,” Nia said. “I hardly dress up in my Kenyan clothes. It’s very different to the other costumes and has different colours.”