HARVARD -- A bout of sickness has delayed Hildreth Elementary School's annual Festival of Cultures, originally scheduled for March 21 but now set for April 11.

Up to 11 percent of students were out sick last week with a gastrointestinal bug, said HES Principal Linda Dwight. Going on with the festival as planned would have run the risk of spreading the sickness even further.

"Really, the Board of Health suggested that we not have it," she said.

But this week, attendance has been back to regular numbers, she said.

"We did a lot of cleaning and sanitizing, and just keeping the kids home that needed to stay home," she said.

The festival hosted by the PTO allows children to explore cultures from around the world through local families who come to share their heritage. Participating families present information about their culture at different tables throughout the gym, Dwight said.

Students receive "passports" that they can get stamped at each country's table.

Last year, more than 100 community members and students attended, Dwight said. Countries from every continent are represented.

"Not only are there tables set up, but students are able to perform either songs or dances or monologues from information about their country," she said. "So we have Irish step dancers, we have Indian dancers -- we just have a variety, each year, of performances."

Dwight said students are proud of their classmates' presentations, and end up learning more about their classmates.


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"It really involves a whole family, which is a neat way for it to happen," she said. "It's not just students-based but family-based, so it's a pretty proud moment for everybody."

The festival will take place from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on April 11 in the HES gym and cafeteria.

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