Kickoff event gets performers ready to rehearse for FON 2023


Courtesy of Matthew Neil

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With the arrival of December comes some long-awaited annual festivities, and at Townsend Harris one of those traditions is the annual FON kickoff event. FON (Festival of Nations) is one of the most popular events at THHS. Through dance, FON celebrates the beauty of the cultural diversity at THHS. On December 12, students from all grades attended the event after school, eager to hear the various FON groups available to join. Attendees responded with excitement at the announcement of the FON groups for the year, including some new or returning groups like Tibetan, Virsa (Punjabi), Jewish, and Italian FON. 

Several leaders shared what they’re most excited about for this FON season and teased new additions they can’t wait for their members to learn about. 

Sophomore Sithi Das, a Bengali FON leader, said, “FON last year was an amazing experience, and it definitely was the highlight of my freshman year. I’m looking forward to seeing my FON thrive more. I am also excited to be able to experience becoming a leader.” 

Costumes seem to be a favorite part of FON for this season’s leaders, and something they think everyone will be delighted to see and wear. 

Junior Sophia Shi, a Chinese Iron Fan FON leader, said she was “excited for when the costumes arrive.” She said, “I know they’ll all be in one piece…and I know everyone’s excited for costuming [too].” 

Sophomore Aisha Rana, a Bollywood FON leader, said, “I’m most looking forward to seeing [my FON] all come together with the costumes and everything, and seeing all the hard work we put into this come to life on stage.” Aisha also mentioned a few new things about Bollywood FON this year that she thinks participants will especially enjoy: “This year, we’re planning on having some really fun and upbeat songs – that’s always nice to look forward to. And personally, I think the dresses are really pretty this year so I can’t wait for them to see how the costumes came out.” 

Assistant Principal of Organization Ellen Fee, the advisor for FON, weighed in on what she’s most looking forward to seeing this FON season. “I am especially excited about Tibetan FON because I have been wanting to include Tibetan dances for about four years. [THHS] has a lot of Tibetan and Nepalese students, so I’m very excited to see [that group perform].”

This year’s FON will hold four performances on March 11 and March 12, with 2pm and 7pm shows for both days. Audience members will have to wait until then to see the final product of months of hard work. For now, the echoes of music and shouting from hallways and classrooms after school will return for FON rehearsal season. 

As for advice she might give to FON newbies, Ms. Fee said: “FON can be intimidating if you have never danced on stage before, but the leaders will make you feel comfortable and welcomed into the group. You don’t have to have [advanced] skills in dance to [participate]. [FON] is just a really fun time to be together with other people. You will [get to] learn a new culture and [experience] something that you will [otherwise] never be able to see outside of Queens.”