The Swampscott Heritage Festival will take place on Friday

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SWAMPSCOTT — A heritage festival, organized by students of color and showcasing diverse cultures, will take place Friday at the high school.

“We want it to be a cultural experience as well as a community building experience and just a celebration of different identities and different cultures and heritages that make the community so rich,” said Latoya Ogunbona, the school district’s Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity (program director METCO.

The event, which will be open to the public, was planned by the Swampscott Students of Color Association (SOCA) High school with support and mentorship from the community group Swampscott Unites, Respects, Embraces (SURE) Diversity.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, students in the METCO and SOCA program held a cultural fair for fellow students in the high school atrium, unfurling flags and posters and bringing in cultural dishes typical of their homes. This year, with growing intolerance around the world and in neighboring communities, the students wanted to come together again and do something bigger to recognize, celebrate and share their cultures with the community, Ogunbona mentioned.

The festival will feature around 10 different countries including Cape Verde, Greece, Haiti, Italy, Jamaica, Pakistan and Uruguay. There will be ethnic food to try and entertainment from an emcee and some entertainers.

Community members are also welcome to come and share poetry or songs, said Ogunbona.

“We just want it to be a good time,” she said, adding that students and visitors might as well have a little dance on campus.

Organizers have opened up festival attendance to the entire school district, and representatives from middle and elementary schools will also have tables at the event.

SURE member Sue Burgess said five student leaders had been working on the event for months, despite their busy school and sports schedules. Students came up with the name of the event, spread the word to get teachers and other students involved, and did most of the planning.

“We just helped a little by giving them structure and feedback, and we’re going to give them some financial support for the event,” Burgess said. “This event will be at least the first of its kind for us. It should be a good start. »

The students learned the health regulations for such large events and work within a budget, Burgess said.

Taking on big tasks like this can be stressful, said Dakiah, one of the organizers, but she’s learned from the experience that when you have a support team, it helps things run smoothly.

“While I love networking, I’m a bit nervous about speaking in public, but it’s only gotten better since we started planning this event,” said Dakiah, whose last name was not provided.

She wanted to participate in the making of the Heritage Fair, because it was one of the ways to build a community.

“Heritage and culture is just one branch that everyone should explore. We don’t take the time to learn where everyone comes from. So it’s good to explore these different elements of our community,” Dakiah said.

The Fête du Patrimoine will take place at the school on Friday, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

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