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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Butler Elementary’s World Night returns to enrich students about cultures

Jun 30, 2022 06:51PM ● By Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Butler Elementary third-grader Harper Dunford practiced a dance from Punjab, India every Wednesday for weeks alongside her classmates.

“It was fun to learn, and we had costumes,” she said. “I watched a lot of other dances, too. I really liked the fifth-grade dance.”

She also learned a Japanese art style and created a picture of flower blossoms on a tree branch as well as painted a fish, which was hung on display in the school’s main foyer along with schoolmates’ artwork.

It was all part of the Butler Elementary’s World Night.

For years, the cultural activity has been known as a huge community event as a time to share and embrace cultures.

Now, back after a hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 500 of the school’s 600 enrolled students, came, bringing another 600 people.

“We want to promote world citizenship and have kids develop an appreciation for cultures from all over the world, including their own,” Principal Jeff Nalwalker said. “(It’s important because) It all has to do with our interdependence on one another and that our world is enriched by understanding people who are living near us an living far away.”

World Night took on a new look.

Instead of being in the school’s multipurpose room, World Night was performed outside on the school’s blacktop as a makeshift stage. Portable bleachers were brought in, which allowed people to watch student performances.

The night began with kindergarteners singing “It’s a Small World” before other grades danced. First graders performed a Mexican dance, followed by second grade dancing a Basque number. Third graders learned a dance from India, while fourth graders performed an American folk dance. Fifth graders finished the performances with one from New Zealand.

The students learned from artists in residence, Nalwalker said.

“They come in and spend a few weeks teaching dances to the kids,” he said. “So, these people from various cultures actually teach dances of the cultures to the kids.”

That was coupled with a display of art the students made, representing different cultures and styles from around the world, put together by Beverley Taylor Sorenson visual art specialist Marcie Ambrose.

The night also featured two bands, one that played traditional Andean music with the Peruvian plan flute; and the rock band, SLAM, which featured current and former Butler Elementary students.

“They played American rock ‘n roll, so there was a bit from our culture,” he said.

The event was kicked off by hosting Brigham Young University folk dancers.

“The idea is to give the kids the spirit of all these different dances from around the world,” Nalwalker said. “It’s a time to come together, learn and have fun.”