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A celebration of nations

Fourth-grader Anthony Lian smiles while representing Burma

Photos by Dianne Carroll Burdick

Kentwood – Meadowlawn Elementary students represented 30 different countries – from Albania to Vietnam – wearing ornate traditional clothes and waving colorful flags as they entered the gym Olympic-style.

To a crowd of cheering parents and teachers, the kindergarten through fifth-grade students took part in the recent Parade of Nations, honoring the countries they or their families come from. 

The annual event honors students’ diversity and their countries of origin, said Principal Tim Hargis.

Second-grader Mohammed Othman and first-grader Marwa Othman represent Iraq

Located in the most diverse school district in Michigan, it returned to its in-person format after a virtual event last year.

“Being able to do it all school and in person this year, with parents and families able to attend, made it even more special,” Hargis said.

The school’s diversity is worthy of a celebration, he said.

“Students have so much pride when they walk in the parade and hear the crowd cheering for them. The smiles on their faces say it all. We are celebrating them simply for being who they are and that is so special.” 

Front to back, fourth-graders Aline Charlott and Esther Tumukunde, first-grader Salama Eritie and fifth-grader Reponse Janvier represent Uganda in the parade
Flags fly high from Vietnam, represented by (front to back) fifth-grader Lawrence Nguyen, third-grader Tivon Nguyen and second-graders Camilia Nguyen and An Tran
Front to back, third-grader Mang Thiang, kindergartner Hannah Anas, first-grader Elizabeth Yawng and fourth-grader Christian Muana represent Malaysia
First-grader Aldo Hollingsworth represents Bosnia
Fourth-grader Sophia Velez-Colon leads the Puerto Rican group, followed by fourth-grader Juliana Kirt and second-grader Daniel Candelaria-Roman
The Myanmar group includes, from left, first-grader Muang Thang, third-grader Pau Muang, second-grader Khup Thang, first-grader Dim Cing and third-grader Steven Shingom
Front to back, fifth-grader Kasam Kami, third-grader Chhetize Bhattarai amd fifth-grader Saimon Bhattarai enter the gym for Nepal
Students cheer for the parade
Students represented 30 different countries
Principal Tim Hargis celebrates students during the Parade of Nations
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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio

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