Peace is a universal concept.

That’s exactly why Hidden Valley Elementary School in Savage now hosts a peace celebration rather than a traditional winter concert, a shift away from the school’s tradition.

“The singalong is a longstanding tradition in our school,” Principal Kristine Black said.

The school’s second annual peace event took place on Friday, Jan. 19. The celebration is an all-school, non-religious singalong consisting of music sung in a variety of languages, including English, Zulu, Spanish and Somali.

Usman Hussain, student support, behavior specialist and administrative assistant at Hidden Valley, said peace is a common denominator in a very diverse group. At the school, 20 languages and a variety of cultures are represented.

The event serves as a way to bring people together despite the differences that could divide them, he said.

“Love transcends language and peace is a byproduct of love,” Hussain said.

A new tradition

Black said a large percentage of the school is Muslim and many did not want to participate in a traditional winter concert containing Christmas songs. Without everyone showing up to the event, that made her rethink what they were offering.

“Then it’s not an all-school sing-along,” she said.

After talking about it and brainstorming, they came up with an idea that resonated with everyone from parents to school leaders:

Celebrate peace.

Last year was the first year they tried it.

“When I threw out the idea of peace, everyone seemed into it,” she said.

Successful events

The first year, Hidden Valley students and teachers re-dedicated a peace pole that already stands outside the school, a gift from a parent whose child once went to the school. This year that same parent donated a picture of a diverse group of people representing the cultures around the globe. It’s titled, “The Global Human Family,” and Black said it will be placed in the front near the school’s entrance.

Other than that, the tradition of the all-school sing-along remains. Rather than songs that refer to or include themes about Christmas, they are now about peace and unity. The music is multicultural and includes songs in English, Somali, Spanish and Zulu.

The feedback from parents has been positive, Black said. She’s received no negative feedback, she said.

“I just feel like we’ve created this as a new tradition,” Black said.


Britt Johnsen is a Savage reporter who loves in-depth reporting and bringing more heart and soul to the paper. Britt is thoughtful, hard-working and an “introverted extrovert.” She loves her two cats, yoga, poetry and snobby Minneapolis coffee.


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