Clara Piquero came to the U.S. in 1962 at 17 years old.

Her family fled from Cuba, she said, because her father had been jailed for being faithful to the Batista regime when Fidel Castro took over the country in 1959.

When her father was eventually released, the family left the country, she said.

Bailey Elementary School's Multicultural Day on Sept. 26, Piquero gave students a presentation about her homeland.

She told them about the one of the country's most popular sport, baseball; the colorful hummingbirds that make Cuba their home; the tiny frogs -- Monte Iberia Dwarf Eleuth -- that can also be found there.

And along with other students, Piquero's grandchild, 7-year-old first grader Cecilia Piquero, was making a Cuban maraca out of plastic spoons, eggs and rice.

Piquero said many people, including her own children, don't know much about Cuba.

On this day, however, Piquero, along with other volunteers, were introducing Bailey students to cultures from nations throughut the world.

Autumn Shah, multicultural chairwoman of the school's parent-teacher organization, said countries represented included Slovakia, Russia, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, Mexico, Venezuela, Italy, England, Iraq, Pakistan and India.

Scottish Corners, Indian Run, Wyandot, Riverside, and Wright elementary schools and Scioto and Jerome high schools also hold multicultural days, said Doug Baker, district spokesman.

Students throughout the district come from diverse backgrounds.

The district includes students from more than 100 countries who speak more than 60 languages, Baker said.

At Bailey, about 60 students qualify as English language learners, Principal Tyler Wolfe said.

Recognizing different cultures, Wolfe said, is important for fostering global and cultural awareness as well as to show students examples of a variety of belief systems.

The school tries to celebrate multiculturalism with a major event annually, Wolfe said, but also incorporates it into the students' curriculum.

At Bailey's Multicultural Day, volunteer Srujana Challa was showing students how to make rangoli, an art form in which patterns are created with dry materials. In this case, students used sand to create designs on a table.

Born in India, Challa said she came to the U.S. in 2010 when her husband, Adi, got a job here.

Challa, whose 8-year-old son Aryan Kumbagiri attends third grade at Bailey, said she wanted to introduce Indian culture to children.

Across the gymnasium, volunteer Bethany Dwinnell was representing Vietnam.

Dwinnell adopted her daughter, Bailey fifth-grader Leah, from Vietnam when she was 7 months old.

Her family participates in a Vietnam culture camp every year, Dwinnell said, and a year and a half ago they visited the country, and Leah was able to see her orphanage.

"We just really want her to be proud of her culture," Dwinnell said.

ssole@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSarah