Around the UFT

All for one, one for all

Multiculturalism on display at Brooklyn school

These children — and teacher Vianny Gutierrez — are ready to demonstrate cumbia,

These children — and teacher Vianny Gutierrez — are ready to demonstrate cumbia, a rhythm and dance that originated among the African slave population on the Caribbean coast of Colombia.

Hip-hop dancers pose with teacher Shonell Harris (top row, second from left) and

Hip-hop dancers pose with teacher Shonell Harris (top row, second from left) and school aide Evelyn Terry.

With her grass hula skirt and floral lei, this child is ready for a Hawaiian lua

With her grass hula skirt and floral lei, this child is ready for a Hawaiian luau.

There was a veritable United Nations in Bushwick, Brooklyn, on June 2, when PS 299 celebrated cultural diversity at its fifth annual Multicultural Show.

Following the theme “Out of Many, Comes One,” said Amelia Flores, the school’s bilingual speech teacher, “the show brought together our students, teachers, parents and other family members as it demonstrated that, although we come from different backgrounds, music and dance unite us all.”

Flores praised the students for their hard work and dedication. “It’s a chance for the children to showcase their talents outside academics — talents like dance, speaking and presenting themselves,” said 5th-grade teacher Shonell Harris, the event’s chairperson. “It helps them overcome shyness and builds confidence.”

There was a morning performance primarily for the school community and an evening show where the audience included families and community members. Chapter Leader DeNeil Pollock-Campbell said by evening, the children had “shaken off their jitters and they could not contain themselves.”

The show included dancing, singing and costumes indigenous to Cuba, Africa, Columbia, Asia, Mexico, the Caribbean and Hawaii, plus a taste of American Soul, complete with James Brown in miniature.

“What do they know from James Brown?” asked Pollock-Campbell. “But they were really into it.”

These 1st-graders were part of the African dance group.These 1st-graders were part of the African dance group. Giving the audience a taste of American Soul is a band of kindergartners.Giving the audience a taste of American Soul is a band of kindergartners.

Classes from pre-K through 5th grade were joined in the evening by special guests — a Caribbean band with soloist Roshida McLeod, the parent of two PS 299 students; a mariachi band that led a sing-a-long; and teacher Vianny Gutierrez’s Hispanic dance troupe, Cumbiamba Curramberos.

Pollock-Campbell said the adult entertainers “added to the parental engagement and there was so much audience participation.”

The show involves a lot of work, and Harris was thankful to all the members who contributed. Putting the unity theme into practice, Pollock-Campbell said, “They worked so well together that everything just fell into place.”

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