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School No. 3 celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month at open house

OBSERVER Photos by Braden Carmen A crowd gathered on the grounds of School No. 3 in Dunkirk for Thursday’s open house and celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.

DUNKIRK — For at least one day, Hispanic Heritage Month and Dunkirk Elementary School No. 3’s start-of-school open house were a match made in heaven.

The open house, held recently, fell nearly in the middle of Hispanic Heritage Month, which continues through Oct. 15.

“We have a lot of Hispanics within our community and within our school. This is a way to celebrate them and make them feel welcome; to have the parents want to be part of our school and our school district,” said School No. 3 Principal Kisun Peters. “I think it’s our responsibility to reach out to our constituents and our stakeholders within the community … to make them feel welcome within our community.”

Multiple Board of Education members representing the district were in attendance at the commencement of the event to enjoy the festivities.

“It’s great to see the community come out for our schools and for our kids,” Board of Education President Ken Kozlowski said. “It’s just great to see all our volunteers here today.”

School No. 3 Principal Kisun Peters, back, poses with Dunkirk Board of Education members at Thursday’s open house.

The event featured Puerto Rican cuisine from Arly and Izzy’s food truck, music played by a DJ, a raffle fundraiser, SUNY Fredonia soccer players on site to demonstrate soccer skills, students from the Upward Bound program through SUNY Fredonia offering temporary washable tattoos, and a community artist, Maria DeJesus.

“We’re just trying to get the community together. We’re trying to get parents involved,” said Anna Fred, an English as a New Language (ENL) Teacher at Dunkirk Elementary School No. 3.

A key force in helping organize the event, Fred’s job on a day-to-day basis plays a large role in the district’s focus on literacy for its students.

“As a district, our main focus is literacy. We want parents to come in and hear what literacy looks like,” Peters said. “Parents are teaching our children the basics in terms of listening skills, as well as speaking. From there, we’re helping make sure we enrich their reading and writing. We want to work with parents to do that, we can’t do it without their support.”

“Our teachers stress parent involvement, we want our parents to be engaged with our students. We do that so well here at School 3, we’re really excited about that,” Fred added. “We just want everybody to know the importance of education and coming to school every day.”

SUNY Fredonia soccer players set up a youth soccer area to practice soccer skills at Thursday’s open house.

The district also recently welcomed all of its staff back for the school year together in one large gathering, rather than separately by building, for the first time since the pandemic hit. Thursday’s open house was the district’s latest example of promoting unity throughout the school community.

“I love doing this,” Kozlowski said. “This year, I think we’ve had one of the best starts that we’ve had in a long time. … I couldn’t be prouder to be part of it.”

Luckily for Dunkirk, even Mother Nature cooperated, as the event was held on a sunny, 70-degree afternoon.

“This is great. The weather couldn’t have been any better, everybody is happy, so we’re happy,” Fred said.

Colleen McDonald helped sell raffle tickets as a fundraising event during the district’s open house.

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