ShareThis Page

Mt. Lebanon's International Fair celebrates cultural diversity

| Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, 9:20 p.m.
Students at Jefferson Middle School sign up for jobs at the sixth annual International Night. Each year, students from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds make dishes for a pot-luck dinner, run games, perform traditional dances and music, and put on a fashion show of traditional international costumes.

Jefferson Middle School students in Mt. Lebanon will celebrate their diverse backgrounds and raise money for charity at their sixth International Fair.

A potluck dinner of ethnic dishes prepared by students and their families will accompany games, music, dancing and a costume fashion show on Thursday to demonstrate the varied backgrounds of Mt. Lebanon students and their families. The event is open to the public.

“I thought that creating a club, where all students of all backgrounds and abilities would be welcome, would help to foster bonds between both students and their families,” said Ashlee Beckett, a sixth-grade social studies teacher at the school. “We then had our first International Night to celebrate our diversity and the unique ethnic and cultural backgrounds we have here in Mt. Lebanon.”

Since then, the club has become the largest student organization at Jefferson, with about 80 active members, Beckett said.

At International Night, which is mainly planned and executed by club members, families get the chance to sample each other's ethnic cuisine at the potluck dinner. Jobs like running games, face-painting and henna tattoos, and announcing acts are all elaborately scheduled. Money raised at the door and through a raffle of gift baskets with international themes will go to charity.

“I also wanted our group to not only recognize and respect where they come from, but I also wanted our students to understand the need of support for those outside of the U.S. who are not as fortunate,” she said.

Through Beckett's uncle, former Duquesne University baseball coach Rich Spear, International Night became a fundraiser for orphanages Spear helps run in Cali, Colombia, and Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Each year, Spear visits a meeting of the International Club to talk about the orphanages and the poverty, lack of food, water and electricity children face otherwise, he said.

“It prompts (the students) to work hard. ... They respond tremendously,” Spear said. “It went very nicely the first year, and it just keeps getting bigger.”

International Night runs from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Jan. 17 at Jefferson Middle School on Moffett Street.

Entry is $5 per student, $15 for a family of three to five people, and $25 for families of six or more.

Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.