• About the Festival
  • FAQs

“Linking Heritage and Education to Celebrate our Diversity”

The Garden State International Heritage Festival (GSIHF) is a true celebration of the unique diversity of iLearn Schools and the community. This educational program provides a rich, multi-sensory cultural experience that enriches both our curricula, our school community, and the community-at-large. The GSIHF is the blending of multidisciplinary-content areas to recognize and celebrate diversity in the classroom throughout the year. Many of the Core Curriculum Content Standards and the Common Core State Standards can be explored within the framework of cultural awareness and appreciation. The GSIHF has been a project of the  iLearn Schools organization for the past two years. The Festival enables students, participants and visitors of all ages to experience a wide range of activities, from cultural performances, to art displays, to sampling from an array of ethnic foods, and visiting country booths.

In 2012, the inception year, the festival was held at Overpeck County Park in Fort Lee. In 2013, the festival was organized in conjunction with the New Jersey Charter Schools Association (NJCSA), and was held at the Meadowlands Expo Center in Secaucus. In its second year, the GSIHF expanded the number of country booth representations, cultural performances, and food vendors, a number of attendees nearly doubled, with over 5,000 joining the festival celebration. Additionally,  iLearn Schools recognized Assemblyman Troy Singleton as the Legislator of the Year.

One Family
Students from  iLearn Schools hail from over 45 countries.  With this diverse cultural mix, the need emerged to celebrate this cultural diversity through education, blended with the arts.

Curriculum Connection
According to the National Core Curriculum Standards for Social Studies, the study of culture examines the socially transmitted beliefs, values, institutions, behaviors, traditions and way of life of a group of people; it also encompasses other cultural attributes and products, such as language, literature, music, arts and artifacts, and foods. In the arts-based curricula, students may create projects and performances based on artistic styles or time periods, and listen to, view, and perform pieces in different languages, garnered from myriad cultures. Curricula is written so that each cross-curricular unit has a country of focus. When selecting countries to incorporate into the academic program, student-population data was analyzed to include countries which represent the heritage of our students. Likewise, each class focuses on a country to research for their cultural project at the festival. Courses in World Languages are offered beginning in grade four. Students may choose Spanish or Turkish, with beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels. Additionally, sign language is offered as an after-school club choice at BASCS Middle school. Plans to expand the World Language department in 2014-2015 include the possibility of Mandarin Chinese and French. Within the unique framework of the festival, students experience performances in a variety of languages, and some have the opportunity to perform in this capacity.

Download Visual and Performing Arts Handbook. Prepared by  iLearn Schools Visual and Performing Arts Department.
Download Social Studies Handbook. Prepared by  iLearn Schools Social Studies Department.

Festival Matrix
Class Projects: Students design a Social Studies project which highlights the study of a country, its history, and its culture.
Visual Arts: Projects open students to the opinions of others while promoting a respect for differences, moving students beyond stereotypical ideas about individuals from different racial, ethnic, and economic groups.  Our cultural art program prepares students to participate in the world around them.
Performing Arts: Students discover, express, and create through aspects of performing arts, whether musical or theatrical, while encouraging cultural awareness.
Country Booths: Families and members from the community are invited to present country booths, which are colorful, interesting, captivating, and educational to visitors of all ages.

Passports to Learning
To enhance the festival experience, students  are given a passport to learn about the countries represented at the festival. Passports are made up of two parts:

Part I – Fun Facts: Students are required to visit ten countries, and fill in the necessary information found at the country booth
Part II – Scavenger Hunt: Students must complete a scavenger hunt, collecting the cultural artifacts outlined in the passport.

Multicultural Concert
Students from across the district combine their talents and perform as one. All songs express the multi-cultural theme and mission of the Festival.

Sample of Past Performances:
Kindergarten- Dansi Na Kuimba
First Grade- All the Way around the World
Second Grade- Cantare, Cantaras!
Third Grade- A World of Difference
Fourth Grade- The Universal Language
Fifth Grade- Let’s Celebrate the Future Hand in Hand
Sixth Grade- We Are the World

1.  What is the Garden State International Heritage Festival (GSIHF)?
The Garden State International Heritage Festival (GSIHF) is a true celebration of the unique diversity of our school, our families and our community. This educational program provides a rich, multi-sensory cultural experience that enriches both our curriculum and our community at  iLearn Schools. Please note that this festival is a project by  iLearn Schools.

2. When is the GSIHF?
 iLearn Schools Garden State International Heritage Festival (GSIHF) will be held on Wednesday, June 10, 2015 at Paterson Arts and Science Charter School, 764 11th Avenue Paterson, NJ.

3. Who will be participating in the festival?
ALL  iLearn Schools students in grades 4-12 will be participating in the festival. The event will be considered a field trip and bus transportation will be provided for  iLearn Schools students the day of the festival from school.  Students will also receive a Social Studies grade for their participation from their Social Studies teachers.

4. Can parents of  iLearn Schools students participate in the festival?
Absolutely! We are asking parents to represent their countries during the festival and/or reach out to their cultural centers for their involvement. Parents can register as country booth representatives or performers for the festival. Please visit www.gsihf.org to register for the event.

5. Are there any other ways that parents can get involved in the festival?
 iLearn Schools parents can become volunteers at the GSIHF by registering online at www.gsihf.org or completing the volunteer form located at the school office. The volunteers will assist in the operation of the festival. Parents/guardians/families can also support the festival by simply attending as a guest. Tickets can be purchased online at https://www.ticketriver.com/event/6524-garden-state-international-heritage-festival or from the school office.

6. Is the festival open to other guests?
The GSIHF is open to everyone.