Throughout the New Hyde Park-Garden City Park Union Free School District, students and staff participated in various remote and classroom activities to help commemorate Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights that began Nov. 14.
Fourth graders in Jeanine Laurino’s class at Manor Oaks School decorated “rangoli” designs (a traditional Indian art form using colored sand, powder or flowers to decorate a floor) on paper in preparation for the holiday.
In the art classroom, Jenna Marotta had her students create Diwali-themed artwork. The students outlined their hands on paper and then drew “mehndi” designs (elaborate painted patterns, usually drawn on the skin with henna).
At New Hyde Park Road School, third graders in Vanessa Motto’s remote class celebrated Diwali virtually.
Mrs. Motto encouraged her students to share their culture and traditions by showing their classmates around their homes with their devices. The students showed “diyas” (an oil lamp usually made from clay, with a cotton wick), decorations, how they dress for the holiday and more.
They discussed how they typically celebrate the holiday each year, but talked about how this year will be different due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At school, fourth graders in co-teachers Lauren Bliss’ and Marianne Warner’s class learned about the holiday from their classmates who celebrate and read the book, “Diwali The Magical Diyas: A Diwali Story.”
Hillside Grade School fourth graders in Janine Sheehan’s class learned about Diwali through a special virtual guest, Mrs. Raj, who is a parent of students Ved and Nikhil Raj. Mrs. Raj read “Let’s Celebrate Diwali” and “The Diwali Gift,” and then demonstrated how to light a diya.
Second graders in Patricia Andre’s class at Garden City Park School viewed a festive video about the holiday and learned about its traditions and customs.
They then brainstormed a list of what they learned to create a word web chart. Additionally, the students created colorful lanterns in class. In Lauren Widmer’s first grade class, the students made their own diyas and rangolis.
Celebrating and learning about Diwali in class, whether remote or in-person, directly supports the Board of Education’s goal to ensure a focus on inclusive and culturally proficient practices that improve learning and school cultures.
Photos courtesy of the New Hyde Park-Garden City Park Union Free School District