The auxiliary gymnasium at South Side High School was abuzz with students, parents and faculty coming together over food and fun for the school’s first-ever Culture Fair on Oct. 22.
From 7 to 9 p.m., high school students presented food, activities and information from different cultures to about 150 attendees. The event celebrated the ethnic diversity represented at South Side, according to math teacher Louis Peterson, who serves as the advisor of the Asian Culture Club.
“We want the students to be exposed and aware of the diversity at South Side High,” Mr. Peterson said. “Students walked around the gym, eating the food, playing games and reading more about the cultures. We hope to do another fair next year.”
Senior Samantha Ying, 17, who oversaw the event, is the founder and president of the school’s Asian Culture Club. She was propelled to create the Culture Fair after experiencing a racial imbalance at school.
“Although usually without malicious intentions, many students generalize and stereotype races,” Ying said. “I feel that these small comments perpetuate the separation between races, and being educated on the different cultures present in South Side would help limit the amount of racist comments.”
The school’s Irish, Italian, Spanish and French clubs, as well as the Cultural Cooking Club, also participated, and several students represented Nigeria and Jamaica. Students Mark Sliva, Cole Botta, Brendan Walters, Kellien Peritz, Jack Dotzler and Ben Bravate served as student liaisons that reported updates to Ying on each club’s contribution to the fair.
The clubs set up tables around the perimeter of the gym, served cuisine from their respective cultures and held informational sessions and activities, including origami tutorials, bagpipe playing, maraca painting and Bilboquet, a game in which the player tries to catch a ball in a cup.
“I feel it went really well — definitely better than expected,” Ying said, noting that there was a line out the door. “I received a lot of positive feedback.”