Heritage Night canceled


Courtesy of Annie Nguyen

Alumnus Rajasak Leksang, junior Amelie Trieu and junior Elisha Musih were hosts for last year’s Heritage Night.

Heritage Night is one of the most popular events at AHS, attracting a sell-out crowd almost every year and displaying the diversity that the school is so well known for. This prominent tradition that unifies the community has now been canceled for the first time in school history. Heritage Night, a talent show that showcases the different ethnic talents of AHS students, especially those from the ESOL department, did not have a sponsor this year willing to organize the event.

“I am very disappointed that we had to cancel it,” Principal Vincent Randazzo said. “There was no one willing to sponsor it.”

ESOL teacher Georgiana Tomisato has been a leading sponsor of the event since 2001. She is set to retire this year and says that it is too much work to organize Heritage Night as well as her retirement. Additionally, theater arts teacher George Bennett has been out on medical leave since winter break and is unable to sponsor the event. Bennett usually helps with the more technical aspects of Heritage Night, which is a major part of putting on the show.

“I usually help every year with tech and sound and kind of help with keeping the show looking nice and organized,” sophomore Kalid Mohammed said. “Most years run-throughs with tech could be between four days to a week, which is always a lot of work.”

Mohammed also explained that two of his friends who have also been preparing to be in the show since the beginning of the year were planning to represent the U.S. with a choreographed hip hop dance at this year’s show.

“They’re very disappointed because they’ve been preparing for so long,” Mohammed said. “They can’t believe administration would allow this to happen.”

Despite the amount of work that typically goes into the show, students like Mohammed who have been preparing for the show since the beginning of the year, are disappointed with its cancellation since it usually sells out the auditorium every year, bringing in around $3,000 a year for the school. It also gives students the chance to showcase the hundreds of ethnic heritages that AHS has to offer in a talent show format. The event typically attracts 110 performers, 20 acts and 650 spectators.

“I’ve been preparing to be in Heritage Night from the beginning of the year. I was planning on dancing a traditional Ethiopian dance,” junior Hana Hailemariyam said. “I was in it last year and can’t believe it’s canceled this year.”

“Many of my friends were planning on participating and were the ones who encouraged me to join,” junior Wilsone Tosta said. “I’m very disappointed that the show was canceled because I feel like Heritage Night gives more opportunities to do other performances and bring out people’s cultures in their performances.”

One of the co-curricular activities that often relies on Heritage Night to showcase its talent is the yearbook, who usually sets aside four pages to cover the event.

“We had to replace the pages that had Heritage Night on them with spreads about diversity and time capsule trends that we had initially not planned to do,” yearbook sponsor Julia Hanneman said. “The replacement wasn’t ideal. The spreads for [Heritage Night] are much more simple and visually appealing, and they provide coverage of students that usually don’t get to be in the yearbook.”

The cancellation of the event not only disappoints performers, but spectators as well. Heritage Night has often been known to sell out. This money often goes to funding field trips or is left over for the next year to use. This means that the money that was collected at the show last year will be transferred to funds for next year’s Heritage Night.

“We want every event to be at its best when we put it on,” Randazzo said. “We do have a sponsor for next year, but I’m disappointed that we had to cancel it this year.”

However, despite Heritage Night’s cancellation, the Thespian Honor Society is interested in putting on a talent show around the time when Heritage Night was supposed to take place. This talent show is still in the works and is still in the process of being approved.