COLLEGE PARK-WEST BOULEVARD
By ANN ELISE TAYLOR
The sound of children singing a Zulu folk song echoed down the halls of West Boulevard Elementary School on Thursday, April 28, coupled with the gentle percussion of parents clapping.
Next came a Japanese tune. Then a melody from the West Indies. By the end of the night, Brazil, the Middle East and Mexico had joined the mix, each sung by the smiling group of students.
It was Diversity Night at West Boulevard, an annual event that teaches students to accept and embrace the cultural differences of themselves and their peers.
Music teacher Rachel Blomquist has been preparing her students for the show since early February.
“I thought it went really well,” Blomquist said. “The kids seemed happy. There were some sound issues, but that’s okay. That’s elementary school performances for you.”
Fifth-grader Carey Bass, one of the students in the show, said she has enjoyed learning about other cultures.
“There’s a lot of different cultures at our school, and so I think it’s a good thing that we celebrate it,” Carey said. “We’re all different people, but we all are friends, and we have the same heart.”
Carey said learning songs in other languages can be difficult, though.
“I was kind of hard because there were words that I didn’t know real well,” Carey said. “But now I like the other languages. They’re fun to sing.”
Carey’s father, Richard Bass, said he appreciates the message West Boulevard is sending to his daughter.
“I think it’s a good deal,” Bass said. “It’s an important thing that they learn how to live together and accept each other and understand that there are different cultures.”
West Boulevard principal Susan Emory said teaching students to accept each other’s differences is especially important at her school.
“One of the things that I love most about this building is the diversity that’s in these walls,” Emory said. “You know, our school song is about loving one another and helping each other. It’s what matters and it’s the real things in life and it’s what gets you through.”
Carey said she hopes the performance sent a message to the audience as well.
“Some people are prejudice,” Carey said. “I’m not saying that anybody in the audience is prejudice, but there are some people who don’t accept people for who they are. I think that if they were here, they would find out that everybody is the same on the inside.”