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Marist Shines Bright with Vibrant Culture Night Celebration

Marist students and Ms. Hayes pose for a photo in the gym after a successful Culture Night. (Photo Credit: Marist High School Instagram)

Marist High School celebrated its 2nd annual Celebration of Culture on Thursday, March 14. The event hoped to recognize and showcase the different heritages and backgrounds that make up the Marist community. 

Faculty members, students, and families slowly entered the Main Gym. Just after 6:00 p.m., a Mariachi band began to play, marking the beginning of Culture Night. 

The gym was brightly colored with decorations and the aroma of delicious foods. Many panels and people represented their cultures, including: Greece, Lithuania, Philippines, Palestine, Italy, France, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Pan-Africa, Nigeria, Ireland, Poland, and China. 

Some panels were represented by affiliated clubs at Marist High School. Groups like the Black Student Union, Italian and French Honor Society, and Latinos United showed their representation not only for their culture, but also for their members. 

“[My and Ms. Martinez’s] parents are both from Mexico, and we have really strong feelings towards their hometowns. For me, their hometown is my hometown as well,” said Luis Alatorre, a Spanish teacher and co-moderator for Latinos United. “It’s a big moment to be able to come out here and be able to represent that. To show off a little bit of our culture here for the students and teach them something new that they may have not seen, tried, or heard about before.”

Attendees moved freely from panel to panel. Some sat down to enjoy the music and dances performed throughout the night. However, many went to learn about the customs, history, and to try the different cuisines of each unique culture.

Some popular foods with students were from the Greek and Italian panels. 

“My favorite dessert is kourabiedes, which is like an almond butter cookies. Gyro meat is also very popular, which is usually lamb and cow mixed together,” said senior Zoe Zwonitzer.

“A lot of people like Antipasti, which is a collection of some meats and cheeses, and is usually a pre-dinner snack,” said junior Celia Lindokken.

Some students were motivated to attend in order to receive a dress-down day the following week, but most were thrilled to be there without the incentive. 

“It was a fun experience to get to see other cultures, especially ones that I wasn’t knowledgeable about like Pan-Africanism,” said sophomore Hailey Dostal. “It was really cool seeing the performances and just getting to enjoy myself.”

Many presenters, attendees, and Marist administrators recognized the importance of having  Culture Night at Marist. 

“We are, as the United States, a melting pot. We come from all different places and we’re proud to be American. That doesn’t mean we lose our heritage or who we are,” said Principal Meg Dunneback. “[Culture Night allows] us, at a small-scale, to be proud of that and to show that we are all Marist, but we all are very, very different, and have something to share with one another.”

It is necessary to acknowledge the unfortunate circumstances from which it arose. A few years ago, a racist gesture was made towards Hispanics and Latinos by some students at their homecoming dance. This had a profound effect on Marist. 

“During my junior year of high school at Marist, there was an incident involving racism, and it really highlighted an issue where some students did not feel appreciated,” said Maya Trevino, a Marist alumna and co-founder of Culture Night. “We wanted to create a space where we could feel comfortable and appreciated sharing all cultures that make up Marist because that’s who we are.” 

Culture Night had an increase in attendance compared to last year, which can be considered a great success for everyone involved.

“The number of ethnicities/cultural tables has increased from nine to thirteen, and the presence has increased as well,” said LaToya Hayes, Marist DEI Director and co-founder of Culture Night. “I am so proud of [the student presenters]. I’m so grateful for them being here tonight and for their dedication. This is a very proud moment for me, and I hope they know how much we appreciate and value them here at Marist High School.”


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Ethan Froylan
Ethan Froylan, Journalism and Media 1 Writer
I am a sophomore at Marist High School and enrolled in Journalism 1. I graduated from St. Linus School. This is my first year working with MHS Media. I'm a student ambassador, play golf on the JV team, am a member of the Math team, and am a proud RedHawk. I look forward to learning and writing more.

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