The students of Long Branch Elementary got to travel the world — without ever leaving the school.
LBE held its 13th annual Holiday Extravaganza during the school day Friday Dec. 14. The event featured holiday traditions around the world and gave students a chance to see the way other parts of the world celebrate the season.
“This is a way for our students to be exposed to many wonderful cultural traditions that they might not be aware of,” said LBE Principal Robert McCrone. “It’s a unique, powerful and meaningful way to celebrate the season with our students.”
The Holiday Extravaganza allowed students in all grades to “visit” 13 different countries and cultures and learn about their holiday traditions. This year’s destinations included China, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Korea, the Philippines and Puerto Rico. The students also saw presentations on Christmas, Hanukkah, Eid ul-Fitr and Kwanzaa. The students carry a “passport” from place to place and receive a stamp on the passport at every country. While visiting each culture, the students took part in an activity, whether they listened to a presentation, read a book or made a craft.
“They get to learn all about the different cultures,” said Carla Pascucci, who, along with Mary Ellen Oyer, organized the event. “We try to represent different cultures every year.”
In celebration of the variety of cultures and traditions, the school also hung the flags of 50 different countries in its hallways.
The event is made possible through the efforts not only of Oyer and Pascucci, but the volunteers who take the time to give presentations to the children.
“We’re so grateful for the people who come in to do this,” Pascucci said. “These people, most of them are giving up a day of work to come in and share their traditions and heritage with the kids.”
Pascucci said that many presenters are found by simply cold-calling organizations and asking them to participate.
“We just call the group’s main number and tell them what we’re doing and ask if they’re interested,” she said. “You wouldn’t believe how many of them say they’d love to.”
And the presenters aren’t the only ones who love the Holiday Extravaganza. The students at LBE enjoy the experience as well.
“They love it,” Pascucci said. “They gain a whole new appreciation for what’s all around them.”
That’s the intent of the activity — to teach kids to appreciate not only their own traditions, but those of other cultures, as well.
“They get to get outside their box,” Pascucci said. “They get to experience other cultures and traditions other than what’s going on inside their own home.”
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.