YONKERS N.Y. - An auditorium of Yonkers students danced, clapped and sang the tunes of "Jingle Bells," "Feliz Navidad" and "This Is Hanukkah" as part of an educational program celebrating multicultural holidays.
In honor of the various cultural traditions of its staff and students, Yonkers School 9 celebrated the history and ceremony of Christmas, Kwanzaa and Hanukkah. The celebration was attended by pre-kindergarten through sixth grade students, and was led by the musical duo Beth and Scott Bierko.
The school decided to have a multicultural holiday celebration to expose its students to different cultures, said pre-kindergarten teacher Christina Driver.
"We started talking to our students about the importance of giving back in the spirit of the holidays," said Driver. "We also wanted everyone to learn about the meanings and importance of different cultures so that they could better appreciate them. Many of our students are from different ethnic backgrounds, so it's great to give tribute to their personal celebrations."
Students are able to learn much easier when the information is presented in a fun and interactive way, said Scott Bierko.
"My wife and I were living in Yonkers and raising our own kids 15 years ago, when someone asked us to put on a performance to educate the kids about the many holidays," said Scott. "Since 1993 we've performed at thousands of school assemblies and workshops for children throughout the northeast, and we don't plan on stopping anytime soon.”
School 9 organized the performance as part of its ongoing effort to instill a sense of respect for all cultural practices.
Taliyah Pemberton, 10, was one of the many students participating in the multicultural holiday celebration, and said the songs made learning fun.
"The event was so much fun because we were all singing and dancing, and it didn't feel like learning," said Pemberton. "For the past couple weeks, our teachers have been going over different cultures and we've been doing different reports on them, too. I like learning about other people's cultures because it's a way to show them respect, and that's good to do around the holidays."