Woodcrest Elementary Spanish Immersion students in first through fourth grade celebrated diversity April 29 at the school’s annual Cultural Concert at Spring Lake Park High School.
“This concert is a celebration of the Woodcrest community,” said Principal Elizabeth Linares. “One of the things that we established early on as a Spanish immersion school is that music is so important to so many Spanish-speaking cultures and we wanted to highlight that in our own community. The Cultural Concert is all about unity, community and celebrating diversity.”
All students in first through fourth grades sang songs in both English and Spanish including “Monody,” “Somos Woodcrest,” “De Colores,” “This is Me/Así Soy,” “Reach Out and Touch Somebody’s Hand” and “Madre Tierra (Oye).”
Music teacher Katie Bleskacek said each of the songs chosen highlights aspects of what it means to be a part of a community like Woodcrest Elementary. Students learning about these topics, including relationships, communication, systems, identity, interconnectedness and community.
“With all cultures the language may be different, but music has always been a form of expression,” Bleskacek said. “That’s important to us at Woodcrest because we are a Spanish immersion school and we want to celebrate music from every Spanish-speaking country and our own community. It’s important that as a school we acknowledge and celebrate our diversity at Woodcrest and have the kids embrace it. I love that the Cultural Concert celebrates our school as one community, all together as one.”
“This Cultural Concert tells kids that they can be themselves and they should celebrate who they are at Woodcrest,” said fourth-grader Benjamin Leon Ramirez. “We are all one community at this school everyday.”
The Cultural Concert is a kickoff to Woodcrest Elementary’s Cultural Festival. The festival will be 6-8 p.m., Friday, May 17, at the elementary school, located at 880 Osborne Rd. NE, Fridley.
Until the festival students will be learning about a continent in each grade. Kindergarten students are focusing on North and South America, first-graders on Asia, second-graders on Europe, third-graders on Africa and fourth-graders on Oceania.
Linares said all the lesson plans in each grade’s classes are being tailored to focus on the culture of each continent. The main focus students are learning about is how a child their own age experiences life on a particular continent.
The students will present what they have learned at the festival, which will also include food, music, games, crafts and more.
Linares said the Cultural Concert and the upcoming festival “help students grow more culturally aware about their own community and the world.”