It was hard to tell what the students were most excited about during The Cottage Preschool’s 8th Annual Multicultural Family Festival on Dec. 10.
There were fun activities, ranging from a ukulele singalong to making family quilt blocks to a funny story read by an energetic elf. Then there was the food, brought in by students’ families and often representing their cultural heritage. Students and their parents enjoyed chicken jambalaya and Caribbean and Mexican barbacoa. There were samosas, the fried or baked pastries filled with potatoes and beef which are popular in Africa and Asia, as well as chole, an Indian dish made of garbanzo beans. Another popular item was Korean kim-bob made of rice, carrot, egg, pickled radish, crabmeat, ham and burdock root.
Parent Alissa Miller said her four-year-old twins, Ender and Max, loved the meal.
“They both got really excited and picked different kinds of food,” Miller said. “It was fun for them to try foods their classmates might have at home every day, but we might not get to try.”
The Cottage Preschool has a very diverse student body. The school's 85 students represent a wide range of countries including the U.S., China, Ethiopia, Germany, Ghana, India, Korea, Libya, Mali, Mexico, Morocco, Pakistan, Peru, Russia, Somalia, Sudan, Ukraine and Venezuela.
The Cottage families also speak a variety of languages, from Amharic, Arabic, Bengali and Bambara, to English, French and German, to Hindi, Russian, Somali, Twi, Wolof and more.
“Each year we gather as a school community to spend time recognizing our families and their cultures,” said Terri Woodward, Early Childhood Education instructor/director. “Families share food and music and wear traditional clothing. We learn about other parts of the world through the diversity of our preschool families. It is an opportunity to teach our preschoolers to celebrate their uniqueness."
While the students, who are generally between three and five years old, may not have appreciated all the educational aspects of this international celebration, they truly loved having family members spend time with them at school.
“He gets so happy seeing me come in,” said Graciela Avila, a student at Overland High School who got out of school early enough to share the festival with her brother, four-year-old Emilio Flores. “I love it.”
The Cherry Creek Early Childhood Preschool program supports the development of a child’s relationship with him or herself and others, self-esteem and the ability to express feelings. It also supports a child’s understanding of words, pronunciation and vocabulary and helps them develop memory, attention span, problem solving, analytical thinking and other skills that will help them succeed in kindergarten and beyond. The Cottage Preschool is just one of 20 preschool locations in the Cherry Creek School District. For more information about preschool, visit http://www.cherrycreekschools.org/EarlyChildhood/Pages/default.aspx.