CLARK, NJ – Valley Road Elementary School is teaching their students about other cultures without ever having to leave the gym.

This week, Valley Road invited students and their families to explore the different cultural backgrounds represented throughout their school at their first International Day – Diversity Fair. Guidance Counselor Sarah Badillo wanted the students to be able to showcase their heritage while learning about the other cultures throughout the student body.

“We like to celebrate diversity here and make diversity a positive thing. We thought if we shared some of the backgrounds, the students would get to learn about various cultures,” VRS Principal Joseph Beltramba said. “We celebrate diversity throughout the year, but this is the first time we are having a fair to celebrate it.”

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Badillo and the committee of teachers who organized the event were excited to celebrate the different heritages within their school.

“This event was an opportunity to educate students and families about the different cultures in Clark,” Badillo said.

Students had the opportunity to make the fair a family event. Badillo said that parents were excited to be involved and the students all worked very hard to put together a great presentation.

“We go to visit family in Greece quite often. My daughter is very attached to the people there and the culture. What better way to show off your pride then by teaching other people about it?” VRS mom Mrs. Warnick. “This project has helped us to connect.”

The students were eager to share how much the enjoyed putting together their tables.

Kathryn Donkersloot, Amanda Machado, and Hope Ferrao represented the country of Portugal. “Maybe one day if we learn to speak Portuguese we can visit Portugal,” the girls said.

Students Braelyn Prusakowski, Livia Cantor, Catherine Panayoutou, and Kendal Bridgewater enjoyed researching information about Ireland and making new friends. They said, “We also liked making the food!”

“For the inaugural year, it's very well attended. The students worked really hard with their families to learn more about different cultures. Under the guidance of Mrs. Badillo, it was a success,” Assistant Principal Mallory Applebaum said.

Badillo was excited with the turnout for this first event despite the bad weather and blizzard they faced this week. She anticipates that they will learn and grow from it.

“We are starting off small and hoping each year can grow bigger and bigger,” she said.