International Day—in person again at Hutch—celebrates diverse population in new building

Hutchinson Elementary School held its first in-person International Day since 2019 on May 15—and the first ever in the new school building. International Day is a festival where families come together to celebrate each other’s cultures by sharing traditional food and other items from their countries. Some perform dances, songs and speeches.

Mila Banfield

“It was important to our community that we establish this wonderful tradition in the new Hutchinson building, and that all the new families that have joined the school in the past few years got to experience International Day in person,” said Lynda Banfield, co-chair of the event.

International Day was organized by continent and region so families could “travel the world.” The route started with African countries and North American, Central American and South American countries in the atrium, and led to the European and Asian countries in the grand hallway, with a few set up outside on the porch.

Hutchinson’s International Day is a 22-year tradition at the Pelham school district’s most diverse elementary school. It was first created by Maria Rosell and continued by Carla Tarazi, the principal who preceded Dr. Trisha Fitzgerald. In pre-pandemic years, the celebration was held both inside the old building and outside on the field, and some years have been bigger than others, but it has always been special for everyone on hand.

“Our families take such pride in sharing their cultures, and we all felt that much more connected in the experience,” said co-chair Katie Flynn. “The energy was omnipresent, and everyone left with full hearts and bellies.” 

Mila Banfield

Families brought many dishes from their countries for people to try. The families at the South Korea table dressed in traditional Korean hanbok, while the Switzerland table rewarded you with real Swiss chocolate when you played a word game. The India table offered samosas, chicken kebabs, mango lassis, henna tattoos and bindis. 

The International Day performances were lively and joyful. Rachel Solomon welcomed everyone by playing the “Star Spangled Banner.” First grader Kylie Manessis Clacken read a book she wrote about Greece and Jamaica, and Grace Flynn recited a poem from Germany called “Alle Vogel Sind Schon Da  (All The Birds Are There).”

There were traditional Indian, Albanian and Guyanese dances and a Chinese Red Ribbon performance. The Hutchinson band and orchestra played “America the Beautiful,” and Sade Jacobs finished off the performances by singing an original set of music.

“I was amazed to see so many people out supporting our families and all the cultures that make us so special,” said Fitzgerald. “The food was amazing and the performances were spot on.”

Mila Banfield