BALDWIN PARK – Baldwin Park High School’s first-ever Posada de Unidad, set for Thursday, Dec. 14, grew out of a desire by four seniors to create an event that would celebrate cultures from around the world.

The seniors, all Dual Language Immersion students in a Chicano literature class, created the multicultural fair for a class project.

“We wanted an event to bring the community together,” said senior Luis Cabrera, who worked on the idea with Paulina Serrano, Christian Ceja and Itzanamy Parra. “A lot of people aren’t empathetic to other cultures. They aren’t aware of them. With a more unified community, everyone can be nicer to each other.”

A posada is a procession, and the Spanish term typically indicates a re-enactment of the Biblical search for a room in Bethlehem by Joseph and a pregnant Mary. The students conceived of the event in secular terms, as a procession of activities across multiple cultures.

“It’s been a really great experience,” Serrano said. “People are enthusiastic about it.”

So far, the students have engaged 19 student clubs to create booths celebrating a variety of cultures and offering activities for community members. The event runs from 5 to 7 p.m. at the high school gymnasium.

As a community service element, the event will include a sock drive. It will also feature an ugly sweater contest, performances by the school’s jazz band and choir, as well as tamborazo and cumbia music, Serrano said.

Baldwin Park Unified’s award-winning Dual Language Immersion program is a pioneer in bilingual education. Studies show dual-language programs boost student academic performance, especially among English learners, and prepare students for the highly competitive global marketplace.

“It’s fantastic to see our students take the initiative to create a program that, like this, celebrates our community and brings people together while serving a greater goal,” Superintendent Dr. Froilan N. Mendoza. “They have connected their work in the high school classroom to the greater classroom all around us.”