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Article updated: 10/18/2013 12:23 AM

District 300 to celebrate its diversity this weekend

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Community Unit District 300 parents, students and officials will celebrate its rainbow of cultures Sunday during its D300 Multicultural Festival.

The free event runs 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Spring Hill Mall.

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Paul Dodson, president of the district's African-American Parent Advisory Committee, said his group came up with the concept of highlighting the district's diversity with a festival almost two years ago.

He hopes to make it an annual affair and to continue featuring student and community talent.

"It's really important to celebrate and expose our district to the diversity that exists in our community," said Dodson, also one of the event's three co-chairs. "We wanted to showcase all of the diversity that exists to show our children more cultures and more of an event that they're not familiar with."

The day will include a martial arts demonstration, gospel music, traditional music from several cultures, Brazilian fairy-tales, step routines, Caribbean drumming and information about Australia.

"We just want those children to know you might see Hispanics or African-Americans, but there's so many cultures out there than the ones you see in your school," said Michael Contreras, another event co-chair who is also athletic director for the Dundee Township Park District. "I grew up in the area, and I know how important it is to show other students how diversity is huge in our area."

Performers come from the district and the larger community.

These student and community groups will perform in the center court, according to Amy Prew, general manager of Rouse Properties, which runs the mall. Programs will be available throughout the mall at designated information tables, she said.

When it comes to the district's student body, 54.3 percent are white, 31.8 percent Hispanic, 5.4 percent black, 5.3 percent identify as being Asian or from the Pacific islands, 2.9 percent say they are multiracial and 0.2 percent are Native American, according to the district's most recent statistics, released last year.

"It's incredibly rewarding for us to strengthen the relationships with the diverse communities that exist and learn about the wonderful things in our community and bring them into one place," district spokeswoman Allison Strupeck said.

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