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Principia School
Thinking Globally, Celebrating Locally


As a large man in a black rugby jersey took the stage, a murmur of “What’s a haka?” rippled through the crowd of 50 Lower School students, parents, and friends. After delivering a short cultural history of the haka’s place in Kiwi culture, Lower School dad Lance Dowdell exploded into an intense performance.

This typified the fourth annual Lower School Festival of Cultures, a springtime event that celebrates the broad range of cultural heritages coexisting harmoniously at Principia. 

Tables representing Bosnia, England, Ghana, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Philippines, Taiwan, and The Netherlands filled the Lower School gym. Like globetrotting ambassadors, students traveled to each of the nine booths—speaking with their classmates and community members, learning meaningful cultural tidbits, sampling local delicacies, and even playing with traditional toys and trinkets. At the end of each visit, they stamped their passports.

The Festival of Cultures is a highlight of the Lower School’s calendar. “From the first year, it had a very strong attendance,” recalls event originator, Robin Gamrath-Schauman (US’94 C’98). “It’s a great opportunity to create a more globally aware population.”

The event culminated with a fashion show and some live entertainment: the rapt audience clapped and cheered as Nargis Forber-Pratt performed a traditional Rajasthani folk dance, third grader Sofi and her father Trino showcased a traditional Mexican folk dance, and Mr. Dowdell performed his impromptu haka.

The event’s impact expanded through the student body and into the community. “The people sharing their culture feel supported and encouraged by the response from the community,” Gamrath-Schauman continues. “It’s been meaningful and impactful for them to share their culture.”

Gamrath-Schauman and Lower School Principal Heather Tibbetts are looking forward to building on their four years of success by potentially expanding the event to Middle School next year.