Squeals of delight and wild applause greeted Los Altos Christian Schools administrators as they launched the annual International Day celebration March 25 by stepping onstage in puffy, white space suits, delivered by NASA engineer and former school parent Steve Ord.
“Please advise the crew of our mission objectives,” said Principal Susan Goff, space helmet in hand.
“Our mission is to test a new satellite. … Our goal today is to set its coordinates and monitor as it selects different countries and cultures to observe,” Vice Principal Evonne Litfin said.
And so began this year’s International Day celebration at LACS, a tradition that has been celebrated for more than 20 years. Each elementary-level class studies a country, then, in representative clothing, shares information on the culture, geography, food, flag, landmarks, history and economy. Countries represented this year included Ireland, China, Norway, Guatemala, Zimbabwe, Israel and Germany.
Languages abounded, as songs were sung in Spanish, Chinese, Norwegian, African, Hebrew and German. Traditional songs included a Norwegian folk song, “Jeg er Saa Glad Hver Julekveld” (second grade); an African praise song, “Yesu Azali Awa” (third grade); a Jewish hymn, “David Melech Yisraeli” (fourth grade); and a German folk song, “Muss ich Denn?” (fifth grade).
Each grade participated, with preschoolers leading the Pledge of Allegiance and marching to the Grand Old Flag, kindergarten prep students singing “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” in Spanish, kindergartners reciting an Irish blessing and first-graders singing “Jesus Loves the Little Children” in Chinese. Juilliard-trained Jenny Suh, a music teacher and former LACS parent, provided the piano accompaniment. Akronos, the middle school handbell choir, also performed.
Third-grade teacher Linda Garton said she selected Zimbabwe for her class to study because it has a large number of AIDS orphans.
“The reason I chose Zimbabwe is because they need prayer,” Garton told her students.
Second-grade teacher Anne-Marie Bevolden chose Norway, where her parents were born and where she spent a number of summers. She wore a bunad, a traditional Norwegian costume, made in Lillehammer.
Country-themed foods such as goat cheese, lefse, Bee Sting, sadza, peanut stew with collard greens, hummus and baklava, potstickers, won tons, corned beef and cabbage, soda bread and potato soup supplied an international flavor to the treats.
Second-grade teacher Virginia Apt said the U.S. is a melting pot, with people from varying countries and cultures, and the purpose of International Day is to give students an opportunity to learn about some of them.
Students responded to questions about what they learned from their international studies.
First-grader Jacob answered, “That the Chinese flag has two colors.” Classmate Christina said she enjoyed “studying different things in China that I didn’t know.” Third-grader Cassie got down to basics: “I liked eating the food afterwards.”
Los Altos Christian Schools, 625 Magdalena Ave., currently serves approximately 280 students, preschool through eighth grade.
For more information, visit www.lacs.com.
Cathy Fitzpatrick-Platt is a Los Altos Christian Schools parent.