• VICTORIA BAUM, BHPS

CMS Celebrates Inaugural Diversity Festival


BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Did you notice the beautiful display of international flags along Plainfield Avenue last week and wonder what was going on? On Friday, May 21, students, staff and families from Columbia Middle School (CMS) joined together to celebrate the first ever CMS Diversity Festival. The festival included a total of 18 displays that were created by parents and students from the CMS school community.


The festival was designed to be an interactive experience and began with students arriving at the upper fields as the amazing sounds of the CMS Steel Pans group led by Music Teacher, Mr. Christopher Colaneri played. The group played a diversified set of music from around the world. Students began at their ‘first stop’ where they were greeted by the Berkeley Heights Diversity Council and CMS Diversity Committee Table to receive their diversity pins and passports and begin their tours.


Students then made their way along the route of exhibits getting their passports marked as they learned about different cultures and groups. At the last table, students submitted their passports for a chance to win a prize.


The parent and student volunteers displaying and providing information represented the following groups: Berkeley Heights Diversity Council and CMS Diversity Committee, Neurodiversity, Interracial Families, Prism (along with a few GL students from the SAGA club), France, Germany, Scotland, Greece, Korea, African Nations, Italy, Poland, Taiwan, China, Egypt, India, Argentina, and Colombia.


“We are so thrilled to be hosting our first Diversity Festival at CMS this year," said Grace Acosta, Assistant Principal of CMS. "It is such an important event and truly brought together our students. The represented groups were identified through a survey that was sent to parents who then shared that they would like to showcase their ethnicities and/or cultures at the event. The Neurodiversity, Interracial, and Prism groups were also identified and then recognized through the CMS Diversity Committee via a student survey. We look forward to expanding the number of countries and cultures represented at the festival in years to come.”


In addition to the parents, students and staff involved in the festival, the Berkeley Heights Education Foundation and the CMS PTO have been active participants in this initiative. The BHEF funded the purchase of the flags that were displayed along Plainfield Avenue and the PTO funded some of the prizes and snacks for the event. Additionally, the Berkeley Heights Diversity Council also funded diversity pins that each student received at the beginning of their tours. Finally, many of the food donations were courtesy of generous families and snack donations were received from local establishments including DiMaio’s, Goodman’s Deli, Hop Hing, Stop and Shop, and 12 Islands Greek Taverna.


Frank Geiger, Principal of CMS added, “Thank you to Ms. Acosta and the Diversity Committee for taking the lead on the Diversity Festival and to everyone who participated or supported this important and inclusive initiative in any way. The number of positive comments from the community about our display of flags gave us the idea to keep them up over the weekend and wait until next week to reset them in front of the school, and we look forward to adding to this beautiful display.”


Originally published in TAPinto Berkeley Heights, May 25, 2021

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