Musselman High School hosts Multicultural Fair

April 05, 2011|By RICHARD F. BELISLE |
  • Musselman High School 11th-grader Felicia LeBre, right, makes cheese quesadillas Tuesday night as Musselman Middle School eighth-grader Ki-Jana Deadwyler looks over a photo album about Mexico. The two were at the high school for the second annual Multicultural Fair.
By Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

INWOOD, W.Va. — Twenty years ago, probably 10 black students made up Musselman High School's minority population, according to a report on student enrollment.

Today, the number of minorities is pushing 200.

The question came up during the second annual South Berkeley Multicultural Fair Tuesday at Musselman.

Black students still hold a slim lead with the highest number of minority students in the 1,500-student school in the southern end of Berkeley County, but Hispanics are pushing a very close second.

Small numbers of Asian, Indian, Chinese, Philippino, Korean and Sudanese students also roam Musselman halls.

The daylong fair ended Tuesday evening when parents and citizens came in, said Melissa Hollen, a 10th-grade English teacher and adviser to the 72-member Student Diversity Club that sponsored the event.

"Berkeley County is growing fast and it's becoming more and more diversified," Hollen said. Events like the multicultural fair help to educate students on what diversity means and to better prepare them for their future in a global society.

"The world is changing," she said.

Tables were set up in a hallway that featured food, clothing, culture, history and geography from nearly 20 countries. The student presenters, a few who were born overseas, and others whose parents, grandparents and ancestors immigrated to the United States, explained the displays.

Riham Omer, a Musselman sophomore, was born in Sudan. Her father is Egyptian. Her family bloodline includes those two countries, plus Ethiopia and Eritrea.

"I have family all over the place," said Riham, who lives in Bunker Hill, W.Va.

A member of the diversity club, Riham said her fellow students are open to new ideas. "They don't know a lot about Egypt or even that it's in Africa and when they see me they think I was Egyptian. But they're nice and they're understanding."

Dawn LeBre, and her daughter, Felicia, a junior at Musselman, were serving traditional Mexican food at their table — cheese quesadillas, tamales and "pineapple Cool Aid," which was popular with visitors, Dawn LeBre said.

Her husband and Felicia's father was born in Chihuahua, Mexico.

Lakshmi Vudathu and Anna Mahavadi were handing out coconut laddu balls, a tasty Indian desert made with sugar, coconut, Cream of Wheat and almonds. Their table displayed handmade Indian apparel.

Other tables represented the Philippines, Germany, Italy, Jamaica, Ireland, East Africa, Korea, New Guinea, Venezuela, France, NIgeria and Pakistan.

During the day, 100 third-graders from Bunker Hill Elementary School and 50 Musselman Middle School students were bused to the high school for the fair.

Each one was given a "passport" which was "stamped" at each table they visited.

The music did as much to promote diversity as the tables.

Matt Schoonmaker, percussion coordinator at Fairmont State University, brought his school's Fairmont State University African Drum and Dance Ensemble to entertain the patrons.

He formed the band six years ago and takes it to schools, festivals, college campuses and cultural events like the multicultural fair.

Schoonmaker learned to play the drums, djembe and doun doun while attending Glenville State College.

Merlin's Beard, a Celtic band whose members include two Musselman High teachers, performed, as did Megan Aaron and her Irish slip jig and hornpipe dances.

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