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updated: 2/27/2014 6:22 PM

River Trails schools celebrate diversity with Heritage Fair

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River Trails Elementary District 26 will host its first Heritage Fair next week, an event designed to foster appreciation and understanding of the different cultural groups who call the district home.

The event will include ethnic/global music, food and a presentation table that will allow district families to display and share items that represent their particular cultural backgrounds.

"We're really hoping this takes off and becomes an annual event," said Matt Silverman, the district's assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. "The community and the staff came together to make this happen."

Silverman said he expects the presentation table will work a bit like a science fair -- visitors will look at one item for a bit, then move on and enjoy the next. He said the activities will be fun for both adults and children.

"To be honest, we've seen this kind of thing at other districts, and it appears to have worked well," he said. "Given the makeup of our community, it should work particularly well here."

Like a growing number of suburban school districts, District 26 serves a culturally diverse group of students. The district comprises two elementary schools and a middle school, all of them located in Mount Prospect.

Christine Collins, assistant principal at Euclid Elementary School, said teachers and students inside that building have already started planning what they're going to do for the Heritage Fair.

"There's a lot of excitement about this here," she said.

Euclid, according to the most recent Illinois state report card on the school, has the highest percentage of nonwhite students in the district. Euclid's student body is 52 percent Hispanic and 16 percent Asian. Thirty-five percent of the school's students are classified as "English learners," according to the report card.

Collins said a key benefit of the Heritage Fair is that it offers a chance for the Euclid community to gather socially with the community at Indian Grove School, the district's other elementary school, as well as the community at River Trails Middle School.

"It's nice to have an event that brings the whole district together," she said. "There haven't been a lot of those recently. Everyone here is looking forward to it."

The Heritage Fair will run from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, March 7, at River Trails Middle School, 1000 N. Wolf Road.

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