Exploring a diverse heritage

Sunshine Elementary School celebrates annual Heritage Day.
Apr. 18, 2014 @ 04:59 AM

Neil Higgins, Sunshine Elementary School principal, said that the school's annual Heritage Day wouldn't be a success without the help of the community.

The school held the event on Thursday and it was full of hands-on learning and focused on various traits and technologies, both old and new, that make up the county's history. The school has been holding the day for nine years and each time members of the community come out to show off their trades, skills and knowledge.

"It's important that we hold on to our heritage and it's the presenters that make it great," Higgins said. "The community is what makes it a great place to be a principal."

Activities throughout the day included disc golf, lassoing, live music, storytelling and a demonstration by Charlie Logan in his ultra-light airplane.

"I flip it, roll it and spin it. I like to show off and the kids like it," Logan said.

Presenter Gemile Ghalab shared information about Yemen, her home country. Ghalab's children attended Sunshine and she has been presenting at Heritage Day for many years. She showed a variety of handmade baskets and a makhbaza, a traditional tool used for putting bread dough into ovens. She also let students sample frankincense gum and Yemen bread with honey.

"I come here every year because I want them to know my history," Ghalab said. "They (students) like the bread. They eat a lot of it."

Tiffany Arrowood, whose son also goes to Sunshine, demonstrated her cake-decorating skills by making a rose out of homemade icing. She said her son asked her to come and be a part of the day.

"It's an old craft. Now they do sugar flowers but this tastes better," Arrowood said. "I took a class at Isothermal Community College and was working at Ingles in the bakery. My manager showed me some stuff and I learned the rest on my own. I wanted to learn to do my son's birthday cakes."

Other activities included an archery demonstration from East Rutherford Middle School students, a visit from Hoot from the Forest City Owls, a blacksmithing demonstration, woodworkers and other educational displays for students to enjoy. James Dobbins also brought his Brahma bull and cow for the students to see.

"I've been bringing them every year if we can get here. The kids enjoy seeing something different," Dobbins said. "It's exciting for the kids to see the animals. It's something they will always remember."

Wade Hollifield and Clay Smith did some cowboy cooking for the presenters and prepared pork chops, slaw and potatoes over an open fire.

"It's amazing to see all the effort that's put into this," Jonathan Hollifield, a Sunshine parent. "It allows the kids to catch a glimpse of history. Every year I see something new."