AES hosts 22nd annual ‘Feast’

Published 2:47 am Saturday, May 5, 2018

Teachers started event to highlight students’ cultures

Third graders at Andalusia Elementary School have been Feasting Around the World for 22 years. Yesterday they had cuisine from Australia, France, Italy, Japan, Mexico and England.

Teachers Beth Weed and Susan Cravey came up with the idea in 1996 after noticing that they were getting more multicultural students.

“We were getting a lot of Hispanic children in our classes,” Weed said. “So we wanted the other students to know their culture as well and become a little more open minded.”

Since there were several different ethnicities in the third grade class at that time, Weed and Cravey thought of a way to embrace the parents and bring them in for the event.

“We decided to do the countries of all the kids in our classes that were not from here,” Weed said. “So we decided to do Mexico, India and Japan.”

“Most of the kids did not even know where India was, or even who they were,” Weed said. “They only thought of Native Americans, so that is one of the main reasons why we do this, so kids can be educated on other cultures.”

According to Weed, most of the parents provide the food, but a lot of local businesses donate as well.

“Big Mike’s donated kangaroo burgers for our Australian booth, Sister Shubert and Aubrey McKee made the scones for our English booth and Old Mexico donated food for our Mexican booth,” Weed said.

The center of the school, or the town square as students and teachers call it, was decorated with landmarks from each country like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Eiffel Tower, the famous British red telephone booth and the entrance to a Japanese garden.

“The parents help so much with decorating as well,” Weed said. “A lot of them cook and bring food. We want the parents to be a part of this cultural event as much as the kids are.”

Weed said that for every new foreign student who enrolls, the teachers try to hang a flag of their country to make them feel welcome.

“This is all about the children and making them feel welcome,” Weed said. “And we want our children that are born here to be accepting of the other kids’ culture as well.”

Along with the food, Mark Rudd has brought his students from Andalusia Isshinryu Karate for the past 22 years.

“I was teaching his daughter at the time,” Weed said. “So he wanted to bring his students and show them about the culture of karate.”

Meryane Murphy also brings her students from the Andalusia Ballet to provide entertainment for the students.

“Mrs. Murphy has been volunteering her time ever since we moved to the new school,” Weed said. “She wanted to come and showcase her students because a lot of the ballet terms are in French and she thought it would be fitting.”

Weed said they definitely would not be able to do any of the event without the help of the parents, as well as the donations from businesses and a grant provided by the Andalusia City Schools Foundation.