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PHOTOS: Puesta Del Sol Celebrates Cultures at International Festival

Puesta del Sol, a dual-language Spanish immersion school, celebrated a wide variety of cultures with traditional dances and songs from all over the world.

Puesta del Sol, a dual-language Spanish immersion school, celebrated a wide variety of cultures with traditional dances and songs from all over the world at the Puesta del Sol International Festival this weekend.

Kathleen Callahan of the Puesta del Sol International Festival Committee submitted the great photos and the following write-up of the event, which took place at Newport High School on March 2:

Over 850 students, family and friends packed Newport High School's Auditorium on Saturday, March 2nd to celebrate Puesta del Sol Elementary School's 6th Annual International Festival.  The evening featured back-to-back performances to accommodate demand for tickets and over 200 students participating in 19 diverse cultural acts and a feast featuring cuisine from around the globe.

Highlights of the evening included the instrumental delights of the beginning and advanced Marimba student bands led by Music teacher, Señora Rose, and students dancing Puerto Rican Bomba & Colombia Currulao, singing, and drumming with Puesta del Sol’s Artists in Residence, Angel ‘Balancé’ Reyes and Otoquí Reyes.  The goal of the Artist in Residence program is to enhance the Spanish Immersion setting for the students and reinforce critical thinking through the arts.  The program is funded through the Bellevue Schools Foundation and the Puesta del Sol PTA.  In addition to vibrant acts focused on Spanish, Latin and South American culture, students welcomed the audience in traditional dress and greetings in 13 different languages.  Students demonstrated traditional dances from Irish, Scottish Highland, Hawaiian, Indian Bollywood, and China.  Fifth grader, Safi Watson, awed the crowd with her mastery of the ancient art of contortion. 

Puesta del Sol is sponsoring three Amity International teaching interns and one International Spanish Academy intern this school year.  All four interns are from Spain this year.  Each intern lives with three different families of Puesta del Sol students over the school year to learn more about the American culture from a variety of family perspectives.  The host families also learn a great deal about the culture of their intern’s home country.  In addition to their value in the classroom, the Amity International interns volunteer their time to school events.  All four interns lead student performance groups in this year’s International Festival.  In the third picture below, fourth and fifth grade students under the direction of Amity International intern Pablo Robles Garcia dance their hearts out to ‘Levantando Las Manos’ . 

Bellevue School District’s Spanish Immersion program is one of the only programs of its kind in the state of Washington.  The program was established in the Bellevue School District in 1986.  It has grown in size and popularity ever since.  The school now has nearly 600 students and enrollment in Puesta del Sol is lottery-based.  At Puesta del Sol, students in grades K-5 are immersed in the Spanish language for most of the day as they study the same curriculum as Bellevue’s other elementary schools.  The immersion program students continue together through junior high at Tillicum and senior high at Newport High School.  Those that complete the program approach native fluency and earn an International Spanish Academy certificate.  By 12th grade, almost all students in the Spanish Immersion program have completed two advanced placement Spanish classes, and they also have passed the DELE, an internationally recognized language test.   

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