International Day at Valhalla Center

Students at the Valhalla Center Celebrate Many Cultures on International Day

From Jamaican beef patties and baked ziti to shepherd’s pie and flan, SWBOCES Center for Special Services students at the Valhalla Center experienced several countries’ food and culture during International Day March 27.

Students in each class voted on which country or culture they wanted to focus on, and the selections were Ireland, Jamaica, Haiti, Puerto Rico and Italy. They conducted research online and created posters about the food and culture. They all helped cook for the special event.

“Everybody did something,” said Leslie Handler, principal of the Center for Special Services Valhalla Center.

Eighteen-year-old Jamie Caldwell of New Windsor said her class voted to celebrate Ireland and chose their food accordingly. “We made shepherd’s pie on Monday. The whole class helped,” she said. “I like beef pie.”

Students who studied Ireland created a mini-game called “Hide the Leprechaun.” Students and staff members who had a paper cutout of a leprechaun underneath their plate received a chocolate “coin” from a “pot of gold.” Student Kate Banfield, who is 18, had the honor of handing out the candy.

Some of the other featured dishes were Haitian rice and beans, empanadas, and Jamaican legumes with beef. The class that studied Haiti made red and blue cookies after the main colors of the flag. Gina Piselli, the mother of teacher aide Damon Piselli, volunteered to cook baked ziti, stuffed shells, meatballs and sauce for the students and staff. Sixteen-year-old Elijah Haynes’ class researched the history, food and culture of Jamaica. “I voted on Jamaica because I like Jamaica,” he said.

Elijah, who lives in Yonkers, said he once visited the country. “I liked swimming and the food was good,” he said, adding that he especially liked the jerk chicken.

Bradley Wilson, 20, of Mount Vernon made a special presentation about Haiti with teacher aide Myrlie Gabeau. They talked about where Haiti is located, about its rainy and dry seasons and that its capital is Port-au-Prince. Ms. Gabeau spoke in Haitian Creole about the country and Bradley spoke in English.