International Festival 2021

Kokomo High School Students Celebrate Culture at International Festival

bolivia insructionKokomo High School freshman Lukah Kincaid showed off her weaving skills with her llama keychains; part of her display about Bolivia at the International Festival. She said each of these keychains took her about 45 minutes to weave. Llamas are native to Bolivia and the Indigenous people use the llamas’ wool for crafts and textiles. Kincaid gained an in-depth understanding of Bolivia while she was researching for this project. “If I ever visit Bolivia, I would love to visit the salt flats” Kincaid stated. “I think a desert made of salt instead of sand would be amazing to see.”

Kincaid and her classmates who participated in the festival are part of Kokomo High School’s International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Program (Grades 6-10). The students enrolled in this program pursue their diploma with class instruction that is project-based, inquiry oriented, and global in focus.

The Kokomo High School International Festival is a great example of this unique way of learning at work.

This year, Kokomo High School students celebrated their 8th International Festival in the Haworth Gymnasium. The festival highlighted the culture of approximately 80 countries as more than 150 International Baccalaureate students participated. Students were picked a country of their choosing, formulated a research paper; and then presented their findings on a poster board. As usual, the festival attracted multiple classes of students from several of the elementary schools and middle schools.


kids playing a game

Mrs. Elizabeth Rayl, teacher of the Outdoor Pre-Kindergarden class at Boulevard Elementary was one of the first classes to visit the festival. Mrs. Rayl’s students quickly engaged with the International Baccalaureate students at each visited booth. In the photo on the right, freshmen Chloe Sease, Tashinay Thompson, and Autumn Bates teach the Boulevard students the Chinese or Jamaican Skip; a cultural game that children often play in Jamaica. Two people stand opposite with strings tied to their ankles. The two move in sync while other people jump in-and-out of the strings in various patterns. Mrs. Rayl noted that she loves bringing her class to these events.


“Exposing our young students to different countries, cultures, and experiences is so important,” Mrs. Rayl stated. “My students look up to the high schoolers so bringing them here to be taught by the ‘big kids’ is a great experience.”


Many of the projects offered hands-on learning experiences. Lyric Smith and her group members taught a traditional celebration dance called Bachata.

“This is a cultural dance done in by the people of Barbados,” Smith said. “This dance is used for celebrations, including birthdays and festivals. The Bachata can be done with a partner or alone. We had fun learning.”


If given the opportunity to visit Jamaica, Smith would love to attend the festivals in person.

“The Jamaican festivals look so fun and colorful; everyone looks so happy,” Smith added.

Smith and her group members infused that Jamaican enthusiasm when teaching the younger students.

morocoKokomo High School freshmen Liliana Taskey and Keara Dechert showed off an impressive display about Morocco. The pair shared prepackaged Moroccan snacks, traditional spices, music, and a well-labeled display board that elaborated about the culture of Morocco.

Like many of their classmates, Taskey and Dechert offered face-painting, which was a huge hit with the elementary aged students.


“Face, body paint, and tattoos are a long-time tradition in Morocco.” Taskey said. “The Moroccans do a dot design for festivals and celebrations, as well as a traditional wedding look.” In the photo on the right, Taskey is captured painting a small sequence of dots on the forehead of a Boulevard Elementary student.

The elementary students walked throughout the festival with “passports” for each country. Once the students observed a presentation, or participated in a hands-on experience, they received a passport stamp.


Freshman Laney Jones shared Ethiopia with a few students from Pettit Park.

“I think it is so important to share other cultures with our younger students,” Jones stated. “I love being part of the International Baccalaureate (IB) program. I have learned so much about how people in other countries live; way more than I would have learned if I was not in the IB program.”


foodThe International Festival offered more than display boards. In the gym foyer, a spread of various international foods were offered to all those in attendance. The culturally diverse cuisine was prepared by the Culinary Arts students from the Kokomo Area Career Center. Some of the tasty international offerings included: Chinese eggrolls, French beignets, Jamaican Jerk chicken, and Mexican street tacos. The international food selections were a highlight for many students and adults who tried the various cultural dishes.


playing chelo

The students in band, color guard, and choir kept the visitors at the Haworth Gymnasium entertained during the festival. Several vocal performances, which included music from different Disney movies, celebrated the different cultures.



In the photo to the left, Kokomo High School student Maddie Duncan plays a beautiful cello solo.

playing trombone  band playing  playing flute 

“I learned so much while working on this project about Greece,” Brooke Wilson said. “I had no idea Greece had so many powerplants and that CO2 emissions are a real issue. Before this project, I envisioned Greece with colorful architecture and pretty beaches; but now I realize that is not the whole picture. I really would like to visit Greece some day. Athens looks amazing.”


The Kokomo High School International Festival served as a great way for the International Baccalaureate students to connect with the elementary and middle students, as well as their fellow students. 
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