Recorder: "This year’s Taste of World Cultures bittersweet"

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This year’s Taste of World Cultures bittersweet

By JOSHUA SOLOMON

Staff Writer

Published: 3/11/2019 11:02:15 PM

GREENFIELD — After the students paraded through the cafeteria in the garb of various world cultures, celebrating their international roots, Spanish teacher Tara Cloutier came out with a bouquet of flowers and addressed the full house for the 23rd annual Taste of World Cultures.

They called French teacher Tamara Grogan to the front. The students, teachers, family members came to their feet in celebration of the Greenfield High School teacher of two decades.

“It’s really not going to be safe without you, madame,” Cloutier said.

“We love you, madame!” students shouted out.

After 21 years of leading the annual Taste of World Cultures, Grogan is now headed into retirement. On this Monday night at Greenfield High School, the school began to celebrate her while celebrating everything Grogan has always celebrated.

“Just thanks to the whole community,” Grogan offered afterward. “If one or two or three people tried to do this it wouldn’t work. But when a whole community does it works.”

The night featured the usual array of cultural performances to the backdrop of flags from around the globe, most of which represented countries with which students identify.

Students perform at 2019 GHS Taste of World Culture

Photo credit: Paul Franz

Student-led performances featured rehearsed measures from the French and Spanish classes. The French class sang a song in jest about lounging in life and smoking, which the emcees prefaced with an anti-smoking message. They added: “We are singing about the French, who smoke, to the detriment of their health.”

A break-dancing crew excited with a high-energy performance of b-boying, popping and locking. A salsa duo taught students multiple steps to get them moving in rhythm and in tandem.

“It’s a lot of great smiles on people’s faces,” Senior RJ Byrd said.

Every student gushed about the wide array of international dishes to pick from as one of their favorite parts of the evening. This year you could find French broccoli and cheese quiche, Mexican lasagna, Polish pierogies, or rice dishes like Romanian pilaf, Portuguese jag and Pakistani biryani.

“Greenfield is located in western Mass., where it’s just hilltowns and American culture,” Senior Dionn Casanova said. “If you go out to eat it’s just pizza and burgers. It’s amazing we can have one night where we can all come out and do this.”

The food came from a variety of students and local businesses, including: Terrazza, Namaste, The People’s Pint, Brad’s Place and New Fortune, along with Foster’s, Big Y, Stop & Shop and The Barn.

While the event is typically grant funded by the Greenfield Cultural Council, this year Taste of World Cultures was supported by the Greenfield High School Alumni Association.

Tenth-grader Jacob Frank was one of the two students to emcee the event. He remembered going to the event when he started at the high school, “and every year I get more and more involved with it, because it’s such a great event.”

Fellow emcee and classmate Ella McDaniel said it’s one of the best events of the year because of how it brings her peers together.

“My dad says he loves it and says it’s his favorite thing,” Ella said.

This year was a little bittersweet, she said, referring to her departing teacher.

“She’s just so beloved by not only the French students and French club, but the whole school,” Ella said.

“She’s really what makes this event so widespread,” Jacob said. “We do have to hope the next French teacher carries the torch, but it’s up to us as students to take responsibility for the taste of world cultures.”

You can reach Joshua Solomon at:

jsolomon@recorder.com

413-772-0261, ext. 264