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Inside the Classroom

Obama Academy to hold 2nd International Festival

Jamie Martines
| Friday, Feb. 9, 2018, 9:00 a.m.

Pittsburgh's Barack Obama Academy is holding an event Saturday to promote its students' diverse backgrounds and the East Liberty school's International Baccalaureate program.

The second International Festival will feature food, performances and information stations where people can learn about students' heritage and cultures.

“We just think it's a great way to bring families together,” said event organizer Lisa Harris, a mother and member of the Obama Academy Parent Teacher Student Association. The association along with the East Liberty Chamber of Commerce, Obama Academy foreign language teachers and local businesses are facilitating the event.

The International Festival was started in 2016 as a way to complement the school's International Baccalaureate program, an interdisciplinary curriculum that allows high school students to pursue college-level coursework. It also celebrates students' diverse cultural backgrounds, Harris said.

Local parents and restaurants will contribute traditional dishes from around the world. Entertainment will include Brazilian and West African dance crews, along with the Obama Academy steel drum group.

Visitors will receive a passport when they arrive and can earn stamps by traveling to information stations representing different countries. Stamped passports will then be exchanged for tickets to be entered in a raffle drawing.

“It helps people learn about different stuff from around the world,” said Zion Harris, an 11th-grader, adding that he sees the event as a chance for students and community members to learn about places they might want to visit in the future.

About 100 people attended the school's last international festival, held in 2016.

Student Sophia Margittai, a 10th-grader, hosted a table representing her family's Hungarian heritage at the 2016 festival.

“A lot of people have a lot of back stories that they don't get to talk about,” Margittai said. She thinks the festival is an opportunity to share family history and to get to know classmates and community members better. This year, she plans to once again dress in a traditional Hungarian gown made by her grandmother.

“It's just a fun experience for everyone around the school,” she said, adding that she encourages the public to come to this year's event with an open mind and to be ready to learn new things.

Jamie Martines is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at jmartines@tribweb.com, 724-850-2867 or on Twitter @Jamie_Martines.

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