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The world comes to Keene Central School during International Night

Grace Sturgus, Seokjaw Hong, and Harry Joannette serve traditional South Korean food to guests at International Night on Feb. 28 at Keene Central School.

Grace Sturgus, Seokjaw Hong, and Harry Joannette serve traditional South Korean food to guests at International Night on Feb. 28 at Keene Central School. Photo by Katherine Clark.

— The world came to Keene through a special group of international students and performances of Spanish music from students in all grade levels for the Keene Central School’s first International Night on Feb. 28.

The evening would have celebrated the fifth annual Spanish Night for the school, but six international students were able to add to the festivities. The students gave informational presentations about their home countries of Taiwan, Norway, South Korea, Spain, Vietnam and Brazil.

“Ordinarily our Spanish Department sponsors a biennial "Spanish Night" but because of our new friends we decided to combine our Spanish students' performances with presentations by our international students,” said Cultural Consultant in Spanish education Peg Wilson.

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A mariachi band performs along with the students during the finale performance at International Night on Feb. 28 at Keene Central School.

KCS Spanish program incorporates language training from kindergarten through high school.

Visitors were welcomed to the celebration able to sample an array of foods the exchange students had prepared. The food included spring rolls from South Korea, brigadeiros or fudge truffles from Brazil, and then churros con chocolate or Spanish hot chocolate.

The international students were: Luiza Parolin, an 11th grader from Curitiba, Brazil; Iñigo Azcona, a 10th grader from Madrid, Spain; Dinh Mguyen Phuong Hoa, or Chloe, a 12th grader from Hanoi, Vietnam; Susanne Ruud, a 12th grader from Norway; SeokJae Hong, an 11th grader from the northern region of South Korea; and Jonah Wu, a 12th grader from Hsinchu, Taiwan.

The program included special performances by students, including kindergarten singers performing a song in Spanish then in English; “My body makes music” with the 5th through 8th grade classes, stomping, clapping and doing the cha-cha; the 3rd and 4th grade singers with “O mischievous children”; and a programwide finale performance.

Superintendent Cynthia Ford Johnston said after the performance she was amazed at how proficient and confident the students appeared.

“There is such a difference in the kids from the first year we held this program,” she said. “They have such a bring-it-on attitude.”

KCS has hosted one international student a year but was inspired by Newcomb Central School’s large class of international students. Johnston said the experiences and value the group of students has brought to the school has been invaluable.

“The International kids have brought so much to the community, and it’s been an amazing experience,” she said. “We are definitely doing this again next year.”

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