school's parents to do some teaching. Parents at La Canada hail from
countries in just about every continent, and for two days out of the
year they transform the school's cafeteria into an international
They lay displays highlighting important facts, traditional dress,
everyday implements and customary dishes from their mother lands.
Parents from Armenia, Austria, China, India, Israel, Italy, Peru and
Russia were on hand Thursday to show off their country's traditions.
And it's not just about fun, students learn a lot.
"This is good because we are not sitting in our seats being bored,
we are getting up and seeing how things are in other countries,"
Joe Puglia's family roots go back to Italy. His display was laid
out with laptop computers that showed famous Italian Americans, books
on the country and foods emblematic of Italian kitchens. Most of his
presentation to students focused on the many different pastas used in
"To me, Italian culture is about food, art and music," he said. "I
focus on pasta because it's something you can demonstrate and get the
kids to do some hands-on learning with."
During his lesson, Puglia coached the students on how pasta is
"The parents really go all out to present their cultures, and they
do it happily," third-grade teacher Jackie Castro said. "Students
need to be exposed to as many different cultures as they can in order
to understand each other better.
On the surface, it doesn't look like it, but La Canada has people
from many cultures living here."
* ROBERT CHACON covers La Canada Flintridge and La Crescenta. He
may be reached at (818) 637-3239 or by e-mail at