One couldn't help but notice the diversity in the group of first grade students who provided opening entertainment to the 11th Annual Night of Unity at Pleasant Valley High School. But when they blended their voices in enthusiastic chorus of "This Land is My Land" and "Lean On Me," they gave voice to what America is all about ... being one with each other.
The Night of Unity is PV's way of celebrating its community of diverse cultures.
Entertainment was provided by PVMS chorus students, McElligott School of Irish Dance, Dirk Spit playing the bagpipes, West End Academy of Dance, PV Hip Hop Dance Team, Jesse Harris boxing/punch gym demo, Don Wuebber Dance Group and Jonah Talbott on the mountain dulcimer.
The high school gym was filled with over 35 exhibits by local cultural and service organizations, art displays and samples of international foods.
The exhibits featured were: Penn State Extension; Monroe County 4H; United Way; West End Relay For Life; Women's Resources; Pleasant Valley Cultural Diversity Task Force; Pocono Family YMCA; Equilibrium; Pleasant Valley Ecumenical Network; Habitat for Humanity; Mrs. Bush's Personal Care Homes; Monroe County Area on Aging Agency; Center for Vision Loss; Foundation of Foreign Study; West End Mission; Strong Women; Pleasant Valley High School Ceramics II; PA Holocaust Education Council; Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations; The Growing Place; RSVP; Pleasant Valley Presbyterian Church; Unity Coalition of the Poconos; Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts; Western Pocono Lions Club; Pocono Alliance; Western Pocono Community Library; West End Kiwanis; PV Dance Team; Penn State Cooperative Extension; Italian-American Heritage Club of Monroe County; Eldred Township Historical Society featuring Pennsylvania Dutch heritage and homemade filling; Grundsow Lodge Sexa #6, also representing Pennsylvania Dutch heritage; McElligott School of Irish Dance; Operation: Touch of Home; and Western Pocono Lioness.
The PVMS Diversity Team served up delicious tasty delights.
"This is good. There's great food and the music is awesome. I don't hear bagpipe music all the time but it's nice to listen to," said Tameka Nelson, a PVHS senior.
Her brother, Christopher, a PVI 7th grader, thought it was interesting to see other cultures that he doesn't get to see everyday.
"This is cool to experience the different cultures and to see other things that are available in our community," said Corrine Urland, a PVHS senior.
Eleven years ago, PVSD's Diversity Task Force was formed, made up of faculty, administration, students, parents and community members. The committee meets on a monthly basis during the school year to discuss relevant issues and to plan ways to promote the talents of the district's diverse population.
The work of the Task Force has resulted in proactive plans for preventing many problems, revision of curriculum where necessary, discussions on issues of the day, student and staff programs, and the "A Night of Unity" community program. If interested in serving on the Task Force, contact Dr. Douglas C. Arnold, superintendent, at (570) 402-1000, ext. 1205.
Indira Gandhi said "One cannot shake hands with a clenched fist."
PVSD's Diversity Task Force hopes events like Night of Unity helps its community to extend an open hand to all its members.