LAPS: 10th Annual Multicultural Festival A Huge Success

Staff and students perform ‘We Are The World’ karaoke style at the 10th Annual Multicultural Festival. Photo Courtesy LAPS

Pinon Principal Ivanna Austell celebrates her Brazilian heritage at the 10th Annual Multicultural Festival. Photo Courtesy LAPS

Dancers from Dance Arts Los Alamos performed Scottish Highland and Flamenco dances at the 10th Annual Multicultural Festival held at Pinon Elementary School. Photo Courtesy LAPS


Students and families traveled around the world in under three hours during the 10th annual Multicultural Festival held at Piñon Elementary School. 

Over 300 people were in attendance throughout the evening.

“We were amazed by the attendance and the interest level of everyone,” said Stephanie Rittner, Piñon Elementary School’s art teacher and fair coordinator. “It was great to see such a turnout. We are already planning next year’s event.”

This was the first festival held in person since the pandemic. 

Presented jointly by Chamisa Elementary and Piñon Elementary Schools, the festival featured dance, music, games, crafts and food tastings. This year will feature  Brazil, Chile, China, Ethiopia, France, Germany, India, Korea, Norway, Uzbekistan, and Cochiti Pueblo.

The evening included performances by Elias Davila, a hoop dancer from San Ildefonso Pueblo, Dance Arts Los Alamos Scottish Highland dancers and Flamenco dancers, classical dances from India by the Los Alamos Family Y Kathak classes, African drummer Akeem Ayanniyi Agalu, and the Chamisa and Piñon Choirs. School staff and students performed We Are the World, karaoke style.

Andrea Lynch, Chamisa Elementary School’s art teacher, Megan Tholen, Chamisa Elementary’s choir director, Piñon Elementary School Choir Director Nic Montoya-Valdez, and Ellen Middleditch served as co-coordinators.
The event was started by teachers Renee Mitsunaga and Julie Bulthuis as a way to celebrate the diversity of Los Alamos County and the surrounding communities. They received a Great Ideas Grant from the Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation for a Multicultural Fair back in 2013. The first “Around the World in White Rock” was held at Chamisa Elementary School in April 2013. It has rotated between Chamisa Elementary and Piñon Elementary every year, with the exception of 2020 and 2021. 

Thank you to everyone who helped to make the 10th annual Multicultural Festival a success, including the performers, presenters, organizers and volunteers.

Presenters for the evening included Elizabeth Bates and the Los Alamos High School German Club, Ivanna Austell, Nora Arbuckle, Amrinder Singh, Kavita Nandakishore, Shanaya Singh, Harshiv Arulkumar, Heather Beemer, Susan Hettinga and her GATE class, Joanne Xiong, Melinda Atkinson, Lily Martinez, Luna Martinez, Claire Schappert, Sita Khalsa, Austyn Harrison-Little, Tia Rhodehouse, Haley Gayner, Jeff Favorite, and the Chamisa K-Kids.

The organizers would also like to acknowledge the Chamisa Elementary PTO; Piñon Elementary PTO; Chamisa Elementary Principal Craig Washnok; Piñon Elementary Principal Ivanna Austell; Tia Rhodehouse, Piñon Elementary librarian; Haley Gayner, Piñon Elementary PE teacher; Isidro Rodriguez; Argelia Molina; and the LAHS Key Club.

We celebrate the cultural diversity of White Rock and its surrounding communities. We appreciate your generosity in helping make our multicultural fair a successful learning experience.