President Obama isn’t the only one opening doors to Cuba.
The spirit of Cuba also swept into Davis Street School Thursday night, with an infectious beat.
In the school’s cafeteria, Waltrina Mullins’ students sang and danced to two Cuban numbers, “La Niegra Tiene Tumbao” and “Suavemente.” The performance was part of the school’s annual “International Night Extravaganza,” which features food, posters and performances inspired by cultures from all over the world.
For Mullins’ students, the performance was a culmination of a year-long study of the Caribbean island nation.
Mullins obtained a New Leaders’ Effective Practice Incentive Community (EPIC) grant to support the study. That enabled her to hire Alisa Bowen, owner of Alisa’s House of Salsa in Westville, to help choreograph the class’s dance performance for the Thursday show. The group has been working with Bowen once or twice a month since February of this year.
She also got local businesses involved. Owners of the popular downtown restaurant, Soul de Cuba, agreed to open the restaurant solely for the group of students, teaching them typical Cuban meals and recipes.
“In the end, we studied Cuba all year long, and now it’s about culminating, embracing the culture,” Mullins said. “It’s not just a dance performance.”
Six other restaurants provided catered food for Thursday evening’s annual event, showcasing different flavors from around the world.
“It’s just one of the things I love most about this school,” said the president of the school’s Parent Teacher Association, Katie Byrnes. The PTA was primarily responsible for helping coordinate the Extravaganza. Byrnes has been involved with the event since her daughter, now in the fourth grade, was 4 years old and first joined the school.