By Eva Mandelbaum
On May 18, 2023, English teacher, Black Awareness Club Adviser, and hardworking event organizer Ms. Melcher struck again with her incredible dedication, and a Multicultural Festival took place to unite the school community. Inspired by the success of the February Black Awareness feast that she organized earlier in the year, Ms. Melcher planned a larger Multicultural Festival that involved as many clubs and cultures as possible.
“I figured if it worked once, it can work again,” she explained. “Food unifies us; a good meal makes us feel loved and appreciated. So once again, I used food as the appeal for bringing people together.”
From pasta to falafel, many cultures were represented thanks to the donations of clubs and restaurants. Over 10 clubs participated in the event including the Muslim Student Association, Italian Club, French Club, Black Awareness Club, SGO, Asian Club, Jewish Culture Club, and Class of 2025; additionally, seven local restaurants contributed to the feast. Teacher and student volunteers served sweet and savory dishes from countries including South Korea, Thailand, Greece, France, Israel, Columbia, Ukraine, Haiti, Jamaica, Columbia, and Mexico.
White Plains High School community members tried foods and activities (including Bocce presented by the Italian Club and jump roping hosted by the Black Awareness Club) from different cultures and celebrated the diversity of White Plains. Additionally, the Mariachi Band and a Bollywood Dance group both performed.
To Principal Martinez, who strongly supported the vision of the event, the Multicultural Festival is a major community builder. “I think as a large school sometimes we still feel like we’re so far apart but things like this bring us together,” he shared. “Food is such a common thing that we do to gather people together of any culture, and I think it allows us to show that connection between each other, that humanity between us.”
Students who attended found the event an important way for us to unite as a community. Junior Shariya Hasan said that events like these bridge us together. “This is one of many ways we can feel comfortable in our own community,” she said. Mila Hossain, also a Junior, agreed, and said, “I think it’s important [for WPHS to host events like these] because our community is so diverse, so it’s important to have these kinds of events to just kind of bring everyone together.”
Events like this festival embody the role diversity plays in the WPHS culture and community. “I think the students here need more of these types of events," said Ms. Melcher. "The only identifying marker you need to participate in an event like this is you need to be a student at White Plains High School. That’s it! You don’t have to be an athlete, a musician, or on the honor roll to participate and enjoy a good meal with your peers.”