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Sexsmith Multicultural Worker Spearheads Huge Annual Diwali Celebration

On Wednesday, October 29, Sexsmith Elementary got into the South Asian spirit with a wonderful celebration of Diwali.

Spearheaded by superstar multicultural liaison worker Vandana Nagpal, the day kicked off with a special lunch prepared by the Sexsmith PAC for the school's staff. The buffet was packed with crowd-pleasing favourites like cucumber raita, butter chicken, warm fluffy naan, daal, chickpea curry and at least three different types of rice. Meanwhile in the school lunch room, students wolfed down piles of samosas.

It was a smorgasboard and many Sexsmith staff and students got into the Diwali spirit by donning traditional South Asian dress. Then it was off to the gym for a special Diwali performance choreographed and organized by Nagpal.

Gurmit Sangha, Sexsmith's PAC chair says it is wonderful how Nagpal has managed to infuse South Asian culture into the school.

"It is huge. The original south Asian community settled here and we have been here for 40 years," he says. "I went to Sexsmith myself. It is nice to see the evolution of the school into a multicultural school. We also love to celebrate all cultures like Luna New Year,"

During the afternoon event, students of all ages participated in Punjabi, Hindi and Tamil dances. For Nagpal, this is a highlight of the year. She's been organizing the Diwali festival for the past decade and she says she still is thrilled with the smiles of her kids as they prepare for the big performance.

"When I see that smile and confidence on kids' faces, that's what keeps me going every year," she says. "The kids talk about it all year."

Ross Cassie, Sexmith's principal, says as a new administrator it is delightful to see the contributions of staff like Nagpal.  

"From a principals perspective, having a tradition that celebrates a very large component of school community and having it taken care of parents and multicultural worker is incredible," he says.

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