Kelly International Day picnics around the world

WEST ORANGE, NJ — It was a beautiful day to picnic around the world, and Kelly Elementary School fifth-graders did just that at their annual International Day celebration on Feb. 22.

Under the direction of music teacher Deborah Rees, the Fifth Grade Choir performed songs in multi-part harmonies that represented countries like Israel, Ghana, Cuba, Ireland, Africa and America. Student Jana Abdelgany sang “Jour One” and Nicole Elizondo Prado performed a song in Spanish.

Michelle Manza read an original poem about Kenya, Taylor Schiner and Ava de Barros read a poem in Portuguese, Zion Roxborough and Danabelle Jean Joseph performed a Haitian dance, Olenka Salas played the Peruvian song “El Condor Pasa” on her violin, Cameron Lau and younger brother Brendan performed a Chinese lion dance, and Sign Language Club students sang “Land That We Love” and “America the Beautiful” in American sign language.

“What a wonderful way to celebrate our annual International Luncheon,” Principal Joanne Pollara said. “I would like to commend our fifth-grade teachers, Amy Pacifico, Anthony Carsillo, Kelly Clancy, Patty Quinn and Nick Salese; our paraprofessionals; and our music teacher, Debbie Rees. Your dedication to our students and commitment to celebrating the richness of our diversity made this event possible for more than 25 years. Today’s program truly took us on an imaginary picnic around the world.”

Speaking to students, Pollara said, “Through your music and dance you have touched the hearts of all of us and filled our buckets to the brim. In every culture, the language of music reflects the joys and sometimes sorrows of life. Through music, we can all tell our stories. It comforts us when we are sad, it brings joy when we are happy, and certainly helps us celebrate the goodness and light in each other. When words fail, music sends a message. But what are we actually hearing? The invitation to transform us is there if we listen.”

Following the program, students, parents and staff shared an international meal prepared by parents.