Festival helps families travel the world without leaving Trombly Elementary

By: Maria Allard | Grosse Pointe Times | Published January 30, 2018

 Trombly Elementary School third-grader Avery Jakuboski represents Poland during the fashion show at the school’s annual International Festival Jan. 26.

Trombly Elementary School third-grader Avery Jakuboski represents Poland during the fashion show at the school’s annual International Festival Jan. 26.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

GROSSE POINTE PARK — The students, staff and parents who make up the Trombly Elementary community took a trip around the world the evening of Jan. 26, when they gathered for the school’s annual International Festival.

All who attended learned about different cultures through food, crafts, music, dance, a karate demonstration and a fashion show.

The event was designed to give students a chance to share aspects of their cultures with others. A group of parent volunteers — with help from the Parent Teacher Organization — planned the event, and members of the Pierce Middle School Honor Society volunteered their time during the evening.

“The Trombly International Festival has become a tradition in our school in the past four years,” Trombly International Committee member and parent Blanchy Kaminski said. “We thought the children needed some kind of activities to engage them in a cultural experience. This is a very nice event that takes place every year.”

Kaminski implemented the idea for such a festival with volunteer Jetuan Perkins, who died two years ago. Kaminski credited co-chairs Ann Sladkin and Bunmi Kumasi for helping to organize the festival this year. Several students helped out as well, including fifth-grade student Alex Cline as the lead choreographer during the grande finale, and fifth-grader Devon Clark, who assisted backstage.

On Friday evening, several tables were set up with artifacts, books, maps, artwork, photos, flags, rugs, music and more of various countries. The tables included information about Panama, Canada, India, Israel, Mexico, China, Lebanon, South Africa, Nigeria, Poland and South Korea. Students got their passports stamped at each table they visited.

At the Germany table, families could make lebkuchenherzens, which are gingerbread hearts with various expressions on them. Those in attendance also had the opportunity to sample egg rolls from Cambodia, lumpia from the Philippines, Romania’s varza a la cluj and more.

Representatives from the Grosse Pointe Public Library attended, and Trombly Kindness Club students — led by school psychologist Dr. Dona Johnson — presented different signs of kindness from around the world.

For the first time this year, organizers added the “International Terriers Fashion Show” in which students modeled authentic clothing from around the world. Student Moya Sladkin wore a traditional South Korean dress known as a hanbok. The clothing included blue, yellow, pink and silver hues with flower patterns. Sladkin said the dress is usually worn to a special party.

“It feels great because it has lots of colors,” Sladkin said.

Fourth-grader Verona Relan, whose favorite part of the evening was the food, represented the country of India in the fashion show. Her parents, Vikas and Wendy Relan, enjoyed the festivities along with Vikas’ parents. For the evening, Vikas Relan dressed in formal Indian wear known as a kurta, and Wendy Relan stood out in a kameez.

“It’s really nice to see the kids proud of their backgrounds,” said Vikas Relan, who was a student teacher at Trombly last semester. “It’s a big event. The compliments the kids share with each other is really nice.”

The crowd also was treated to a Korean martial art demonstration by Turn of the Tide Martial Arts, located in Grosse Pointe Park. Grosse Pointe South High School sophomore Alex Pinter, who has a first-degree black belt in Tang Soo Do, led the demonstration. Pinter is a Trombly alumnus, and he has helped  out at the Trombly International Festival each year.

Pierce sixth-grader Paul Kaminski served as one of the festival announcers, and Trombly fourth-graders Anthony Kaminski and Isaac Brenner performed John Lennon’s “Imagine” toward the evening’s end on vocals and piano.