Walking through the halls of Wilton High School this week, it’s impossible not to notice something big is in the works. Student-made posters hang everywhere announcing that it’s “The Festival,” a week-long celebration of culture within the school. The event is such a large logistical undertaking it has its own club to organize and plan the whole production.
The Festival has been a tradition at WHS for 33 years and its objective is to enrich the curriculum by bringing together the school community to celebrate the world’s cultures, languages, music and the arts. The planning committee, which has been organizing the event since October, includes teachers and students: (pictured above standing L-R) world language teachers Scott Webster and Lauren Kantor, and students Teagan Sullivan and Zach Sherman; (kneeling L-R) students Lolli Owens, Olivia Hahn, Jayna Gumins and Alex Killian; (not pictured are teachers Susanne Brandt and Nicholas Loafman).
This year’s Festival will feature over 40 events. New for 2019 are a Japanese Taiko drumming group called Taikoza, a hypnotist, and a cooking demonstration by local star chef Prasad Chirnomula. There will be an interdisciplinary poetry/photography/public speaking event and a concert by a local steel band. The ever-popular Talent Show headlines the Festival brimming with song, music, and language. There will also be craft workshops on jewelry and even “paint like Picasso.” Events such as “Yogalates” and discussions lead by the school’s Model Congress and Top Inclusion Model clubs highlight the importance of reaching beyond the WHS community.
“The talent show is always a great event for the students,” says Killian, student co-chair of the festival planning committee. “You discover that people you see every day have all these hidden talents you just didn’t know about.” Competition is fierce to make it into the Talent Show; of the 25 acts that auditioned for a spot, only nine fit into the show’s running time.
Nearly all events are organized and led by students themselves. “Many of the high school clubs participate, it’s a great way for the underclassmen to get more of an understanding about what certain clubs do, especially if they didn’t notice them at the club fair at the start of the year,” Killian adds.
The PTSA is a proud sponsor of the event; the organization’s financial support allows the school to bring in a number of professional artists, including this year Dalton M. Ghetti, a sculptor who carves sculptures into the tips of pencils.
“We welcome the opportunity to enrich our student’s learning in the cultural arts. The Festival provides a space for inspiration and reflection and we hope each student will find something that resonates with them,” says Savet Constantine, PTSA President.
The hallways of Wilton High School will be infused with a sense of festivity that emphasizes open-mindedness and a global outlook. There are events happening during each period of the school day, teachers sign up their classes to attend, and then students are free to attend events on their own during lunch or during free periods. There will be interludes of cultural music in between classes and a special international menu during lunch. Through it all the Festival committee hopes to ensure that the global celebratory spirit reaches all students and staff.