By Brendan O'Brien | Events, Student Life

Before the fireworks sizzled and shot into the sky, and before he danced alongside his friends, siblings and cousins, Manveer Nagra ’17 took a moment to watch the crowd. Just weeks ago he had assumed this performance – a traditional Indian dance known as Bhangra – would be a quick tutorial held somewhere inside for a small group of curious students.

Boy, was he mistaken.

Manveer soon learned that Prairie’s plans for Diwali – in addition to traditional dress and food and displays of rangoli and cultural conversations – included a Bhangra performance for the entire school.

And so, as Manveer scanned the faces of Prairie’s students and teachers, he relished not only how quickly he had pulled together a routine – he designed the choreography as well as arranged for early morning and after school practices – but also how his school had come together to celebrate a holiday so important to him and his family.


“The whole thing was very motivating,” he said following Diwali. “Showing our fellow classmates our culture and teaching them about some of the important aspects – it was just really inspirational.” Prairie’s commitment to community and helping students grow in knowledge and respect – this is what made the school’s Diwali celebration on November 2nd so profound. It wasn’t just a moment for Prairie’s Indian students. Or Multicultural Club members. Or a small group of curious students.

It was a moment for everyone, every Primary, Middle and Upper School student and staffer cheering and clapping, everyone taking part in a traditional Indian festival that celebrates good triumphing over evil.

“Hinduism is one of the great religions of the world,” Dr. Coffman said before the festivities. “We celebrate the victory of light over darkness, hope over despair, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance. These are universal priorities that we all share.”

This is why Prairie is so critical in the lives of its learners.

The power of this school lies in its exceptional educators and talented students, yes, but it is also found in its commitment to continually provide impactful moments – like Diwali or Grandparents’ Day or a series of Veterans Day tributes – designed to make everyone pause and reflect on acceptance, understanding, integrity and compassion.

And so, as Manveer Nagra studied the faces of his fellow students prior to hitting the pavement, he smiled, proud to call Prairie home.