• 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 and our school community. Many of the New Jersey Student Learning Standards can be explored within the framework of cultural awareness and appreciation. The GSIHF has been a project of the  iLearn Schools network of schools for the past five years. The festival enables students, staff members,and families of all ages to experience a wide range of activities, including cultural performances, art displays, samples from an array of ethnic foods, and country table displays.

In the inception year of 2012, 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 has recognized Senator Loretta Weinberg, Assemblyman David Wolfe, Assemblyman Gary Schaer, Assemblyman Troy Singelton, and Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly as Legislators 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 a blend of the humanities.

Curriculum Connections
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. At the high school level, French is also added to the curriculum.

Festival Matrix
Held on each individual campus during the regular school day, and participation is limited to students and staff.

All families are invited to attend and to participate in the evening celebrations. 
GYMNASIUMS: Performances, USA Tables, Family Country Booths, Face Painting
CAFETERIAS: Foods/Drinks/ Gallery walk of Cultural Artwork from Art Department/Select Student Displays
Admission: Cost is $2 for adults, students admitted free of charge

NOTE: Student attendance at the evening event is not mandatory.  This is a fun, celebratory event that highlights the special, unique heritage of our school community. Students are graded on their academic participation in cultural day.  Teachers may assign extra credit for evening attendance at their discretion, asking for individual performance or artwork critiques, food reviews, etc.

To learn more about the academic requirements of our CULTURAL DAYS held on each individual school campus, please visit the following links:

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


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.

2. When is the GSIHF?
The 2017 iLearn Schools Garden State International Heritage Festival (GSIHF) will be held on the following dates at the following locations and times:

Bergen ASCS High – 43 Maple Ave, Hackensack, NJ - Monday, June 12th
Hudson ASCS – 131 Midland Ave, Kearny - Monday, June 12th
Passaic ASCS Middle-High – 7 St. Francis Way, Passaic - Tuesday, June 13th
Paterson ASCS – 202 Union Ave, Paterson - Wednesday, June 14th

Doors open at 5:30; Performances from 6:00 p.m - 8:00 p.m

3. Who will be participating in the festival?
In order to ensure the success of this festival, all students are required to prepare a Social Studies project as part of Bergen, Passaic, Paterson, and Hudson Arts and Science Charter Schools Social Studies curriculum. During the study of this important event, your child will be designing a project which will highlight the study of a country, its history, and its culture.

Each student will be provided clear instructions and handouts during Social Studies class for the various steps of his/her project. Students will collaborate together and teachers will monitor the students’ progress during the completion of their project.

All students in grades K-12 will report to their campus as usual on the morning of the festival. All students in grades K-12 will have a full-day and be dismissed at 3 pm. THERE WILL BE NO AFTERCARE ON THE DAY OF THE FESTIVAL.

·CULTURAL DAY activities are for the students only.
·All families are invited to attend HERITAGE NIGHT, with performances starting at 6pm, with the last performance scheduled at 7:45 pm. All families are invited to attend from 5:30 -8 pm.

Students in Grades K-12 are invited to attend Heritage Night with their parents/guardians/families. PLEASE NOTE: transportation/supervision of students WILL NOT be provided by the school at Heritage Night. As such, students in grades K-5 must be accompanied by an adult.

4. Can parents and families participate in the festival?
Absolutely! Although CULTURAL DAY is a schoolwide event for students and staff only, The Garden State International Heritage Festival will showcase the international heritage of our students and families through country tables, student work, traditional foods, and performances at HERITAGE NIGHT. Furthermore, the festival will promote diversity and friendship among different cultures. We encourage our parents and families to get involved and assist in the process of making this festival a very successful one.

In order to guarantee the success of this festival, parents and families are encouraged to participate. If you would like to represent a country, you have the opportunity to REGISTER AT NO COST for the following:

·Country Table: to display and discuss cultural artifacts, artwork, photos, literature, jewelry, clothing, etc.
·Country Dish: to share and discuss a taste of a traditional dish representative of the country selected.
·Country Performance: to share an individual/group song or dance representative of the country selected (limited number of performance times available; you will be contacted to confirm selection to participate).

Please click the registration tab at the top of this page to submit your registration today!

5. Is the festival open to other guests?
All families and friends of iLearn Schools are welcome to attend.