Diversity is not something that is just talked about at Burgundy Farm Country Day School; it is an essential element.
To celebrate the final day before the beginning of the winter break, the school held their annual Festival of Lights Dec. 16.
This traditional celebration is a collection of classroom presentations to celebrate the season. Student and teachers prepare a seasonal offering from the culture that is being studied in the classroom.
“The Festival of Lights was going strong when I arrived at Burgundy almost
20 years ago,” said Natalie Hall, Lower School Head.
Hall said that as years passed, each class has established a tradition of which culture it represents. Some, such as Santa Lucia, started because of the background or interest of the teacher. Other, such as the Raven, was an outgrowth of the large Native American unit the seventh-grade studies.
"There is a concerted effort to represent as many traditions as possible especially those that are celebrated by families in the school. And that has changed over the years. Ramadan is a fairly recent addition,” Hall said.
Many teachers and students are involved with making sure the festival goes off with no problems.
“Eugene Branch puts the program together each year with assistance from many people. Cathy Manley, the 4/5 music teacher is involved. The Middle School teachers do Ramadan and Raven parts of the program," Hall said, "The eighth-graders always have prominent roles - the girls in the Santa Lucia procession and the boys as narrators. The girl or one of the girls who has been at Burgundy the longest is chosen as Santa Lucia."
Hall said this year there were three girls who had been at the school since junior kindergarten. One portrayed Santa Lucia and the other two sang the Santa Lucia song in English and Swedish.
THE PROGRAM BEGAN with the eighth-grade girls leading the Swedish Santa Lucia Day celebration and singing with the kindergarten class. Shannon Sleger and Rebecca Gallahue sang a duet.
The seventh-grade class presented the “Raven,” a Native American Folktale. They were followed by the fourth and fifth-grade classes, who presented Hanukkah celebrated by Jews and “Away in the Manger,” a song celebrating the birth of Christ.
The transition class led a procession, a Mexican Posada celebrated by Spanish-speaking Christians celebrating the birth of Christ.
Using a large inflatable Grinch as a backdrop, the first-grade class then launched into a rousing rendition of “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.” Dressed in red and white stocking hats, the children were very animated as they sang and were full of giggles as they threw songs into the audience.
The sixth-grade class put on a presentation about Ramadan, which is celebrated by the Muslims. Various sections of the second and third-grade classes presented Divali, celebrated by Hindus in India; Kwanzaa, celebrated by African Americans. “Sleep Well Little Children,” was also performed.
Faculty members Nancy Kaplan, Joel Christianson and Eugene Branch, Jr. closed the ceremonies with a holiday song.