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This year, West View Elementary School has held events that celebrate the beautiful and diverse culture of India. The world’s largest democracy, India represents a cultural diversity unmatched anywhere. The country is home to dozens of languages and religious groups. You can find beaches, mountains, rain forests, plains, and deserts. The major cities reveal ultra-modern industries as well as ancient societies. Celebration of India is designed to give all West View Elementary School students an opportunity and explore this beautiful and fascinating country.

The kick-off event was a whole-school assembly featuring traditional tabla music and kuchipudi dance of India.

In the middle of the year, Mrs. Rashmi Bhalakia, a renowned artist, taught West View students the traditional art of Rangoli, or sand painting. In partnership with art teacher Sara Strzempek, fifth graders created a beautiful permanent piece of artwork for the school entryway. Mrs. Bhalakia also taught 40-minute Rangoli workshops to students in all grade levels.

To see a Post-Gazette article about Mrs. Bhalakia's residency at West View, click here!

On May 3rd, Usha Sethi, owner-chef of the Taj Mahal restaurant visited West View Elementary for a special “Taste and Teach.” Students in grades 5 and 6 experienced some of the characteristic flavors of Indian cuisine, and learned about the role of food in Indian culture.

Mrs. Sethi is a renowned expert on Indian cuisine. She has been featured on WQED-TV. During Pittsburgh's G-20 summit, Mrs. Sethi provided food for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Her Taj Mahal restaurant on McKnight Road has been a favorite of North Hills diners since 1996.

See the McKnight Journal pictures: click here!


At every grade level, students participated in enrichment activities that brought a bit of India to our school.

Young primary students decorated life-size hands with original Mehndi designs. Students in grade 2 created bangle bracelets celebrating some of India’s national symbols. Third graders researched animals of India, and illustrated them using batik techniques.

Students in the upper grades explored India’s history and Hindu culture by reading Mr. Richter’s adaptation of Valmiki’s Ramayana. Sixth graders also constructed replicas of the Taj Mahal. Students in grade 5 created traditional shadow puppets based on Ramayana characters, and fourth graders created travel murals of Indian cities based on the famous illustrations of the Udaipur Ramayana.

A tremendous thank-you to our partners in presenting this year-long celebration:

Dr. Balwant N. Dixit of the Center for the Performing Arts of India at University of Pittsburgh

Mr. Alimpon Sinha

Dr. Kamala Rajupet and the Kala Niketan Academy of Indian Classical Dance

Mrs. Rashmi Bhalakia

Mr. and Mrs. Subhash and Usha Sethi of the Taj Mahal restaurant

Sara Strzempek

John Thomas

West View PTA

The British Library


In addition to our Celebration of India, West View's Junior Achievement Program expanded to include grades K-3. This is the third year of the partnership with JA of Western Pennsylvania. This year, we are honored to receive Junior Achievement's 2010 Impact Award. The award honors West View's longstanding and strong commitment to JA's economics curriculum.

West View program earns Impact Award

West View Elementary School was recently named an Impact Award winner for 2010 by Junior Achievement of Western Pennsylvania, Inc. The Impact Award recognizes organizations and schools that provide six or more volunteers for Junior Achievement programs.

The Junior Achievement program at West View Elementary, now in its third year, serves all students in kindergarten through grade 3. The program is coordinated through Mr. Martin Richter, the school’s gifted and high-achieving specialist, who serves as the liaison between the school and Junior Achievement.

West View Elementary School will be recognized by the Junior Achievement organization on June 17, 2010.

According to its website, Junior Achievement is the world's largest and fastest-growing economic education organization. It is committed to educating young people on the concepts of entrepreneurship, work-force readiness, and financial literacy. During the 2008-2009 school year, Junior Achievement of Western Pennsylvania reached more than 72,000 students in over 3,700 classrooms throughout the region.

For more information about Junior Achievement, visit the organization’s website:

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