Friday, February 10, 2017

Diversity is Our Strength

This week's entry comes from Crystal Thorpe, principal of Fishers Junior High School.  She shares about a FJH tradition that has grown into a major school and community event.

From Crystal: FJH International Fair

Fishers Junior High School believes in the notion that our diversity is our greatest strength.  Cultural diversity has helped make America a more robust country; and therefore, a more interesting place to live.  Our International Fair not only acknowledges our differences but also help our students celebrate and embrace our differences.

Many years ago, what started out as basic information on tri-folds being shared in the large group instruction room has, with hard work, transformed into an amazing night of food, festivities, and fun that brings together our students, our staff, and our community.

This year we celebrated more than 50 countries with food, crafts, and performances.  All 7th graders are expected to participate, and they select the country of their choice.  Students are include fundamental information in their projects, with many going above and beyond expectation.  Some students presented videos using their iPads, while others proudly wore their traditional native garb.

Along with informational tri-folds, students were encouraged to bring food from their countries, such as baklava, empanadas, rice dishes, banana bread, biscotti, lemon cookies, and spring rolls.  Our Spanish teacher also contacted high school students who were former Chargers who painted our student's faces in honor of the Mexican holiday, "The Day of the Dead."  One art teacher, as well as other volunteers, sketched henna tattoos (a form of decorative art from Northern Africa, South Asia, and India) on our students’ hands.  Student artwork was displayed, and the science department had students create displays of scientists from around the world acknowledging their contributions to society. 

The band and orchestra students displayed their talents in the fair as students performed musical selections.  The FJH Dance Company performed as well as the African International Dance Company of Indianapolis.  We had Bollywood student dancers, Samurai sword demonstrations, and a parent from India played the Sitar.  We’ve even had French mimes entertain our guests.  This year, we included story-telling in our library with students reading about cultures from around the world.

Our PTO participated in the fair by creating passports, along with official stamps, for countries such as the United States, India, Kenya, Mexico, China, Australia, Brazil, France, the United Kingdom, and Italy.  Craft stations were in each of the rooms where students created maracas, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Kenyan masks, coat of arms, and more.  Videos and music played in the background of those rooms and offered more information on those countries.  For the first time this year, students submitted recipes for the FJH International Fair, and our Triangle Club created a cookbook so others could recreate some of their favorite International foods from the fair.
Our fair is a community event and everyone is welcome.  More importantly, it is very comforting and encouraging to immigrant families and those new to the Fishers community to see themselves represented in our schools. Every year we get parents from all around the world with tears in their eyes, expressing their gratitude and how much they appreciate this event.

Our goal at FJH is to let ALL of our students know they are welcomed, they are appreciated, and they are valued.  We look forward to next year as our International Fair just keeps getting better and better!

Respond to Crystal at

As Crystal says, diversity is our strength.  Celebrate it today!  Have a great week, HSE.

Your HSE Teaching and Learning Team
  • Jan Combs, Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning
  • Stephanie Loane, Director of Elementary Education
  • Tom Bell, Director of Special Education
  • Jeff Harrison, Director of Educational Technology
  • Phil Lederach, Director of Secondary Education

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