Second-graders wrapped in colorful drapes and first-graders wearing paper crowns all played a part in South Main Street Elementary School’s celebration of cultures from around the world.

Students at the Pleasantville school lined the halls Dec. 20 and later filled their classrooms to share what they had learned about cultures in other countries and on other continents.

They spent the past few weeks learning about various cultures and winter holidays, and focused on the country or holiday their class had studied.

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Nivida Juarez, 6, had kente cloth wrapped traditionally around her head, and was eager to show off her Swahili language skills by saying the words that mean “welcome.”

Juarez and her fellow first-graders in Kadian Walls’ class were educating parents and visitors about the seven principles of Kwanzaa and demonstrating folk dances.

Walls said her students spent a significant amount of time learning their parts and the pronunciations of the Swahili words.

Similarly, the other three first-grade classes presented information on Christmas, Hanukkah and Three Kings Day.

“You can ask them anything they have learned about where it is celebrated and for how long,” said Maria DeGirolano-Quigley, whose class learned about Hanukkah.

The children had even learned how to play the dreidel game and sing the dreidel song.

She asked her eager group of 20 how to win chocolate when playing the dreidel game, and they all shouted back “Gimmel,” indicating the side of the dreidel that needs to face up when it stops spinning.

All four classes had their students stand along the hallways, creating a walking museum for visitors. As parents passed each group of students, they were entertained by a song or poem related to each holiday.

Christmas was represented by the poem “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” Hanukkah by the dreidel song, Three Kings Day by “Feliz Navidad” and Kwanzaa by “Kwanzaa’s Here.”

Second-graders took on a more research-intense project, including learning the history and culture of a specific country. The four classes learned about Israel, Mexico, China and Nigeria.

Debbie Collins-Rice had her second-graders learn about Mexico, including the Mayan culture. A dry-erase board presented students with math problems using Mayan numbers, which consisted of combinations of dots and horizontal lines.

Eugene Crofft’s second-graders told visitors about China, including information about food, animals and the symbolic dragon. A touch of authenticity came from the donated food and a real Chinese newspaper on display.

“Some of the students have said they are going to talk to their parents about celebrating Kwanzaa,” Walls said, explaining it is a traditional African-American celebration.

Others, such as Delrico Herring, 6, were happy to show off their knowledge of a new language. Walking up with the cloth tied around his waist, Delrico beamed as he said that what he was wearing was “kente cloth.”

Contact Anjalee Khemlani:


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