Westborough – Armstrong Elementary School students, aged 5 through 9, and their families celebrated two fun holidays at the end of October – Halloween and the Indian holiday, Diwali.
While these two celebrations are very different in nature and origin, they are representative of the school's desire to expose its more than 400 children to festivals and celebrations from all over the world. With roughly a third of Armstrong students and their families coming from countries outside of the U.S., the school's Diversity Council, led by Principal John Mendes and Chair Janet Hart, helps to organize parent volunteers who want to plan a cultural celebration.
Diwali – also known as the Festival of Lights – was held in the school cafeteria with just over 250 people
attending. There were child-centered activities run by many Indian parents, including storytelling by a representative of the India Society of Worcester, painting of henna designs on the hands, and making of clay Diwali lamps. The evening ended with the aroma of delicious Indian spices as participants shared traditional Indian food that had been graciously prepared and served by the parents.
Three days later, on Oct. 31, Armstrong recognized the American celebration of Halloween as school children dressed in imaginative costumes and paraded through the school grounds as parents watched and snapped photographs of their children. This day of fun was made all the more exciting as the teaching teams each adopted a theme and dressed up as the Red Sox, Rainbow Loom, cowboys – even the school's administrative staff sported costumes from the Wizard of Oz with the school principal in an authentic Tin Man costume.
The next cultural celebration will be this month as the Wampanoag Indians (second grade students) and the Pilgrims (third grade students) come together in the cafeteria to share in a feast of apple butter, cornbread, and cider. Then, early in 2014, the school will celebrate Chinese New Year followed by Carnival.