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Poland elementary students travel the world

Published: Sat, May 11, 2013 @ 12:04 a.m.

Digging in to diversity of cultures

By Susan Tebben



It isn’t often that chicken parmesan, quiche, pad thai and Cherokee Indian chicken salad are all served together — and followed by a dessert of biscotti.

But at Nationality Day at McKinley Elementary School on Friday, students, teachers and parents brought all of their cultures together to celebrate the end of a social studies project that has been a part of the school curriculum for two decades.

“I would say there are over 20 countries represented here,” said Thad Wright, sixth-grade social studies teacher who led the projects this year with fellow social studies teacher Linda Angelo.

In the last five years, though, the Parent Teacher Organization has become involved, and a buffet spanning the entire school gym was served to celebrate the many nationalities among McKinley students.

Students worked for about two months on the projects, which included more than 20 topics involving the history, recreation, religion and culture of other countries. The five themes of geography — location, place, human-environment interaction, movement and region — became part of the projects as well, Wright said.

All the elements were put together in a written report or on a PowerPoint presentation.

“I liked the PowerPoint so we could learn about other countries that we didn’t know about,” said sixth-grader Mum Masaki, who did a project on Japan. For Friday’s event, Masaki wore a traditional kimono and a T-shirt with the Masaki family crest.

For Galena Lopochovsky, doing a project on Greece was a family affair, since her mother is a first-generation Greek American. Her grandmother also helped her learn about her Greek heritage.

“I liked making all the food and learning the history of Greece and Greek gods,” Lopochovsky said.

The project goal was to focus students’ studies on different cultures.

“This area is so rich culturally,” Wright said. “This gives students the opportunity to see that these countries have many more similarities to the United States than differences.”

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