Hudson High School News

HHS holds fourth Multicultural Festival

Multicultural FestivalThe Hudson High School held its fourth annual Multicultural Festival after school on Thursday, May 28. Students and faculty celebrated cultures around the world by making food, putting together informational posters, preparing dances and musical performances, and exchanging conversation.

Students collected “passports” as they walked in the door, and filled the passports with stickers that they collected from each destination around the room. Each table, containing a poster display and food or beverages, represented a different culture. After attendees had a chance to walk around and enjoy food and drink, they watched dance and drum performances by their fellow classmates.

Student performers were joined by members of Operation Unite New York, a community group that seeks to foster well-roundedness, progressiveness, and social consciousness among youth. The organization’s director, Elena Mosley, emceed the event, introducing performers and encouraging students to get up and dance. She has been working with the Guilderland High School Multicultural Festival for about eight years, and brought members of that school down to Hudson four years ago to meet with Principal Antonio Abitabile and other faculty members to figure out how to start the event at Hudson High School. She is now very involved in Hudson’s event, and is responsible for inviting the community performers from around the region.

The festival is led by Extra Help teacher Janet Lento, who coordinates a faculty committee, other faculty volunteers, community performers, and students. The faculty committee meets for months ahead of the event. Participating students group together to represent a culture of their choice, and are connected with a faculty member who guides them in the process. They meet in their own free time—during study halls or lunch periods—and put up flyers to advertise for the event around school. “Ultimately, all the work is done by the kids, which is what makes it so great,” says Lento. She is very grateful to the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation for providing a grant that supports the festival, and to Principal Antonio Abitabile and Superintendent Maria Suttmeier for continuing to support the event every year.

Senior student S.M. Huq is originally from Bangladesh. He worked with his peers to build a poster presentation about Turkey for the festival. He noted how diverse Hudson High School is, and how this festival helps students learn so much about each other. “We get to know about other cultures through social studies—in World History or U.S. History,” he says. “But we don’t get to experience them firsthand. Maybe students can go to Spain or Italy to see the culture, but the Multicultural Festival is the best thing we can do for now to experience how it feels to be in another culture.”

Student Council President Atia Begh was one of the dance performers. “It’s a great way to experience music, food, dance, and just to learn. It’s a day to learn and appreciate other cultures of students that you go to school with,” she said.

Principal Antonio Abitabile was instrumental in the launch of the program four years ago. "I am incredibly proud of all our staff, students, and families who participated in this year's Multicultural Festival. I've watched this festival grow every year since its inception four years ago. It takes a small army to put this event together and it has gotten bigger and better every year. The joy and pride in the students’ ethnicity that comes from showing off their cultural heritage is wonderful example of what makes Hudson such a special school district."