Norcross Elementary festival ends diversity celebration

Norcross Elementary recently finished a month-long celebration of diversity with a festival featuring food, dance and costumes.

The event took place on Oct. 15, the last day of Hispanic Heritage Months. Students and their families brought food and wore costumes from their native countries. The event also featured a dance performance and a parade of nations.

"America is a melting pot," said Rosa Escandell, a Spanish teacher at Norcross Elementary. "Everyone here is from different countries. ... (Diversity) opens the doors of the world."

Escandell said the school knows it's important to celebrate diversity. Many families who immigrated to the area make an effort to keep the traditions and pride of their native countries, she said.

Alberta Lopez, who has a fourth-grader at Norcross Elementary, said her family still celebrates the same holidays they did in Mexico. She said she thinks it's important to keep those traditions going.

Lopez said she was enjoying the festival.

"I think it's nice to be here," she said through a translator. "I like to support the community."

GCPS nutrition

professionals participate in culinary training

A group of Gwinnett County Public Schools culinary professionals are managing their school cafeterias with additional skills they developed during a recent training.

School nutrition program managers from around the state gathered for a weeklong professional culinary training opportunity, the Culinary Institute I at the University of Georgia in Athens.

Culinary Institute I is a program of instruction and laboratory experience that concentrates on culinary skills and comprehensive menu planning, production, food safety and general food science.

The Gwinnett participants included school nutrition program managers Nancy Condon of Knight Elementary, Andrea Thomas of Alcova Elementary and Monica Wilson of Chattahoochee Elementary. Peachtree Ridge High's school nutrition program manager and certified chef Michael McEvoy shared his expertise and skills by providing some of the training.

The program helped participants develop their management skills for meal planning, for providing healthier options for students and for having more efficient production, all of which are vital skills for schools in meeting the requirements of the federal Healthy School Meals Initiative.

Gwinnett's newest graduates of the Culinary Institute I now are able to apply culinary techniques in the preparation of school nutrition menus, identify healthy behaviors that may improve personal wellness habits, analyze menus and recipes for nutrient content using computer software, and apply the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and My Pyramid to their school nutrition program.

Heather Darenberg writes about education. Good News From Schools appears in the Sunday edition of the Gwinnett Daily Post.