Hebron to hold first Hawk Culture Festival

Junior+Vazeeza+Maloo+practices+an+Indian+Bollywood+inspired+dance+afterschool+in+English+teacher+Jeanette+Rook%E2%80%99s+room.+The+group+will+perform+their+dance+at+the+Hawk+Multicultural+Fest+on+Feb.+29.

Katlynn Fox

Junior Vazeeza Maloo practices an Indian Bollywood inspired dance afterschool in English teacher Jeanette Rook’s room. The group will perform their dance at the Hawk Multicultural Fest on Feb. 29.

Hebron will hold the first Hawk Culture Fest on Feb. 29 from 12-2 p.m. in the cafeteria. 

Students from different ethnic backgrounds and culturally-driven clubs have been invited to participate. The festival will feature musical entertainment, traditional dances, games and street-style food.

After fusing the South Asian club and the Asian club at the beginning of the year, senior Alexia Thomas asked principal Amy Boughton if they could hold a community event where students and parents from feeder schools could participate.

“I love my culture, but my generation doesn’t really get exposed to the traditional ways,” Thomas said. “I love going to India and experiencing that with my family, but I know not a lot of people get that, so I want to bring that connection to Hebron. We have about 70 participants from our joint club, [the] Hebron Asian Student Association, and they all brought in amazing ideas that we are contributing to the festival.” 

English teacher Jeanette Rooks is one of 12 teachers who has been involved in coordinating the event. After writing a grant called Diverse Voices of America to expand the variety of books offered in the classroom, Rooks has urged her students to become more involved in sharing their cultures. 

“The original idea was to have a club expo to feature all of the great things we have represented in our clubs at Hebron,” Rooks said. “From there, it transitioned into more of a culturally-based festival that would invite not just club participation, but kids from across the campus to show what a diverse school we have. It was a natural fit to encourage my students to share some part of their history and who they are with our campus and our community to show how Hebron is this lovely mosaic of people.” 

The event will feature a variety of booths and activities participants have organized. There will be a variety of performances held on the cafeteria stage, including opportunities for members of the community to contribute to the festival. 

“We’ve got some singers, we’ve got a drum band coming from the University of North Texas and we have some dancers,” Rooks said. “There’s going to be a section of artifacts where people can bring clothing items or household items, and they’re going to have a little explanation of what they are and what they signify. In the annex, we are going to have activities like henna painting and games.”

Rooks offered her students an extra credit incentive to urge them to become more involved in the event. Many of her students decided to collaborate on their contributions to the festival. Junior Vaneeza Maloo is coordinating a dance for several of her classmates to learn.

“It’s a huge thing to be able to express your culture to so many different people, especially when it’s commonly stigmatized,” Maloo said. “We are performing an Indian Bollywood type dance, and actually there are going to be a few people who are not from Indian descent also, so that’s going to be super cool. We also have a couple of friends bringing different food and putting up different booths.”

Student and teacher organizers are hopeful this event will become a continued tradition for years to come. 

“We are trying to do it every year, but this is our first one, so we are starting out small in the cafeteria,” Thomas said. “Hopefully next year or the year after, it will be a school-wide and outside event too, maybe even incorporating other organizations like band and cheer.”