Classrooms and courtyards became countries Friday for the annual "Warde Day" at Fairfield Warde High School, where students could traverse world cultures by drinking Moroccan mint tea, riding a Roman chariot, learning about Japanese culture, and glancing into China's past and present.

Senior Evan Bender, 18, said Warde Day has progressed from a small event to an all-encompassing international celebration. "It's changed a lot. It's more worldly than before. It's interesting to see all the diversity. You think it's pretty whitewashed here, but there's definitely a lot of different cultures (in the student population)," Bender said.

"It's the best day of the year for us. It's a great way to share our different cultures with everyone and express our different nationalities," said senior Jessica Mayers, 17, a member of the Multi-cultural Group. Mayers and other members danced in one of the school's courtyards.

"There's a lot of variety of cultures (here)," said Hajira Bashir, an 18-year-old senior who is from Pakistan. A Muslim, Bashir wore a traditional hijab, a head scarf.

That variety of cultures she spoke of extends to the teachers as well.

French teacher Rabia Mairech is a native of Morocco. "I was born in Casablanca," said Mairech, whose presentation, called the Moroccan Caravan, was one of the best attended of the day. It was standing room only in her classroom as Mairech introduced students to her homeland, its customs and artifacts.

She had some students try on traditional Moroccan clothing and showed them a mrasha or sprayer that dispenses rose water telling the students that guests in a Moroccan home are sprayed as they enter. "You're making the guest feel special," she said.

Some students followed a YouTube video to do a Moroccan dance, and others had henna designs "tattooed" onto their hands.

"I think there are so many general languages in our school ----French, Spanish, Italian, but our teacher is from Morocco and it's interesting to learn something about a place we don't know much about," said senior Alison Van deBerghe, 17, who stepped into one of the North African country's costumes.

"Warde Day" offered a combination of fun and informative lectures and activities. Students from the Latin classes offered chariot rides, a standard at every "Warde Day," which Kassidy Clark, 17, did for the first time in her four years at the school. "I've never done chariot. I wanted to get that experience in because it was my last chance," Clark said.

Nina Studioso, 17, a junior, said the day-long event featured food and music from around the world. "We had Jamaican jerk chicken, a Spanish pork dish, and I made pasta and sauce to represent Italy. One girl brought in a dessert called baklava," Studioso said.

Bashir said the dessert, made of layered phyllo dough, nuts and honey, is not particular to one country. It is a popular dessert in Greece, Pakistan, India, Morocco and a number of Middle Eastern nations, she said.

Earth and environmental science teacher Tim Foster said the aim of Warde Day is to be informative and to "expose the students to any topic we can't get to in the classroom. It extends the learning experience but it's a less formal education," Foster said.

In addition to the student presenters, the school invited several outside speakers to talk about the Holocaust, Japanese internment camps in the United States during World War II, global warming, and the plight of children in the African nations of Zimbabwe and Tanzania.