Belle Air school airs its cultural diversityBy T.S. Mills-Faraudo
Third-grader Charlotte Fonya, 8, watched Belle Air Elementary School students wearing colorful flowing skirts of red, green and orange perform a traditional Mexican dance Wednesday.
Afterward, she had this insight to offer about the Mexican culture: "I learned that they like to wear long pretty dresses," she said.
Of course, Fonya learned much more than that during the school's Celebrating Our Diversity event, at which students performed cultural dances and created displays about their heritage.
She also learned about the food, jewelry and customs of the Hawaiian, Tongan, Tahitian and American Indian cultures. The event was intended to facilitate cultural understanding among students and represent the diversity at the school.
"As we were looking at pictures from the past, we thought, we have become a real diverse student population," Principal Marcela Miranda said.
According to the California Department of Education, the school's ethnic breakdown includes 75 percent Hispanic, 10.8 percent Pacific Islander, 5.5 percent Asian, 4.8 percent white, 2.2 percent Filipino,1.1 percent African American and 0.7 percent American Indian.
As part of the San Bruno Park School District's centennial events, Belle Air officials decided to celebrate the school's multi-cultural population with an assembly. Each school in the district has been asked to plan an event this year to celebrate the district's 100-year anniversary.
At the assembly, Fonya and second-grader Ani Uikilifi, 7, performed a Hawaiian dance wearing green grass skirts and flower leis. They both learned the dance from family when they were young.
Belle Air Elementary sixth-grader Veronica Diaz also danced at the event.
"I've learned to respect other people," said Diaz, who is the school's student body president.
Copyright ©2006 San Mateo County Journal. Published 11/23/2006.