DANBURY, Conn. -- Western Connecticut Academy of International Studies -- a magnet elementary school in Danbury -- celebrated its tenth year since opening its doors with a festival Friday that embraced more than a dozen cultures.
Set up as a street fair, there were colorful tables and flags from many countries including Guatemala, Italy, Canada, Iceland and Spain.
Hundreds of families came to taste food and learn about traditions.
Students learned to play caracol, a hopscotch-like game from Puerto Rico.
Music from other countries was played while students performed dances that were part of their family’s heritage, or that they have learned over the years.
Kiran Suri, a second-grade student at the school, wore traditional Indian dress to perform Odissi-style Manglacharan. Students also danced the Hora in a group.
“It’s just a celebration of who we are,” said the school’s principal Dr. Helena Nitowski.
The school was selected by the Connecticut Association of Schools as “Elementary School of the Year” for 2014-15.
The school’s international studies theme centers on the concept of peace and the role of peacekeepers in the world. Students start the day reciting the AIS Peace Pledge in both English and Spanish.
The AIS magnet school, located on Danbury’s Westside, is open to all Danbury students as well as students from area towns through a lottery system. The school’s 400-plus students in kindergarten-fifth grade are also taught a foreign language.