Wilton High School celebrates world languages, cultures

Wilton High School students packed the Little Theater to watch their peers recite self-written poems in French, German, Latin and Spanish on Monday, April 7.

Out of 14 student participants, junior Barry Hunter, who recited a his poem “Conversaciones con mi tecnología” in Spanish, and sophomore Tessa Markham, who recited her poem “L’oiseau” in French, were named the winners of the contest.

The original poems contest was just one of the many events offered during this year’s Festival of Languages, an annual school-wide celebration of world languages, culture and diversity.

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Sophomore Tessa Markham and Spanish teacher Fernando Fernandes at the April 7 original poems contest. Tessa placed second in the contest. (Kendra Baker photo)

For three days, April 7-9, this year’s festival featured events ranging from original poetry recitations hosted by Spanish teacher Fernando Fernandes, to a student-run talent show of song, music and language.

The three-day festival was run by students with the guidance of Spanish teacher Scott Webster and German teacher Jo-Ann Cordes.

Prior the festival, a committee of students led by senior Kate Bell, senior Ransom Meltzer and sophomore Jessica Kobsa, met on a weekly basis to plan and prepare.

“We have had meetings before school every Thursday since early October,” said sophomore committee member Carlos Hernandez, who helped advertise the festival. “The biggest challenge has been putting together the calendar of events, because we have to listen to everyone’s opinion, look at resources and keep our objective in mind.”

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Barry Hunter, junior, recites his poem “Conversaciones con mis tecnologia’ at the April 7 Festival of Languages original poems contest. Barry won first place in the contest. (Kendra Baker photo)

The objective is to celebrate and promote student awareness about the variety of the world’s cultures and languages, said Carlos.

“In the past, most events have been well attended, with some events, such as ‘Cultural Infusion: World Languages’ Got Talent’ and the poetry recitation having waiting lists,” he said. “It’s a week most students look forward to.”

While some festival events change, the most popular ones are offered year after year.

“One activity that changes every year is the one where professional performers are hired by our world languages department and represent a specific tradition from a country,” Carlos explained. “We are very careful in selecting this event and make sure that the performers plan to interact with the audience.”

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Ninth grader Erin Bronner volunteered to help run the international bake sale on Monday, April 7. (Kendra Baker photo)

This year, the event “Dance China” was to depict Chinese life through dance in the Clune Center on Wednesday, April 9.

Carlos said the festival committee encouraged other subject areas to get involved in the festivities.

“We worked closely with social studies, math and physical education to design events that connect across disciplines,” Carlos said.

The French and Spanish Honor Societies and the International Club ran a bake sale of international delicacies, ranging from  chocolate chip cookies to spanokopita, a Greek pastry dish with spinach and feta cheese.

Proceeds from the bake sale were donated to Doctors Without Borders, an international medical humanitarian organization that provides medical aid worldwide.

Some of the other events offered during the Festival of Languages included:

  • Adaptations of Grimm’s fairy tales presented by German classes;
  • Japanese origami lessons offered by the math department;
  • Mexican paper flower- and Peruvian mask-making in Zellner Gallery;
  • A discussion on immigration led by Spanish IV students;
  • Latin dance-inspired ¡Zumba! classes with professional instructor Lindy Olszewski.

“I am happy that my school organizes this because it is a fun way to appreciate and value other cultures in the world,” Carlos said.

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