Photo Gallery: Students prepare for International Fair


LENOX -- Lenox may be a cultural hub for summer tourists seeking symphony and theater, but it's still quite isolated from other places and cultures of the great wide world.

Which is why, on Wednesday, Lenox Memorial Middle and High School will be bringing the world to it by staging an Inter-
national Fair. The evening event starts at 5:30 and is free and open to the community.

Students, faculty and staff have spent the past month or so coordinating exhibits and presentations representing nations such as Guatemala, France, Italy and Kenya, among others.

"This year, we as a school have been doing some talk around cultural diversity and creating more awareness and interactive experiences," said Ann-Marie Rodriguez, a Spanish teacher for the school who is coordinating the event across departments.

She said this is the third event of its kind that the school's held in the past nine years.

"It's a lot to undertake, to involve the whole school, but I think it helps to celebrate the diversity here among many levels, culturally, academically and socially," Rodriguez said.

On Wednesday, following a stretch of spring MCAS exams, students will bde treated to a school day performance, drumming and dance workshop with the Bamidele Dancers & Drummers, a troupe that explores the African diaspora in music, culture and dance.

That evening, students, teachers and staff will return to the school's cafeteria and lobby from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. to present cultural exhibits, music, food, art, dance and other works from around the world. At 6:15, the Bamidele Dancers & Drummer will also perform in the school's theater.

In Rodriguez's class, the students have developed various projects for the International Fair relating to their ongoing studies of Mayan civilizations in Tikal, Guatemala and Chichen Itza, Mexico. The students were encourage to research and develop a project based on something of interest related to Mayan culture.

For eighth-grader Zi Santos, it was the word "jaguar" which "sounded cool" that led him to research and build a replica of the Temple of the Great Jaguar of Tikal.

Also known as Tikal Temple 1, it towers over the rainforest preserve it is located in with a 170-foot staircase.

Eighth-grader Nick Monteleone said students were required to use resources beyond the Internet, and spend a full day along with independent hours in the school library. In his case, Monteleone used his carpentry skills to recreate a model of an ancient Mayan ball court.

Santos said he likes the process, project and the idea of the fair because it "shows what you can do with [what you learn]. It shows what you know." In ninth grade, Shon Loftus and Victoria Vittori studied the Mayan calendar.

"I thought it was interesting that the Mayan calendar is still the basis of the calendar we have today. If we hadn't known that, you wonder where we would be today," Vittori said.

In addition to their Mayan projects, some of the ninth-grade Spanish students will also teach a mini-lesson on Greek dancing at the fair.

Rodriguez said that several of the presentations on Wednesday night will be based on personal knowledge and experiences of people in the school, including a student whose family comes from Ecuador, and a teacher whose family has done work in and has adopted children from Ethiopia.