St. Gregory students learn about other peoples, cultures

By Christina Leslie | Correspondent

ARCHITECTURAL WONDERS • St. Gregory the Great Academy eighth-graders display their popsicle stick renditions of three French landmarks: the Cathedral de Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe. Photos courtesy of St. Gregory the Great Academy

This spring, students in St. Gregory the Great Academy explored the rich tapestry of nations around the world without ever leaving their Hamilton Square Catholic elementary school. The academy held its inaugural Multicultural Fair April 20, introducing its student body to the culture and traditions of peoples from all over the globe.

The idea arose from conversations during last June’s end-of-year faculty meeting, noted Maria Carfaro, K-8 science laboratory instructor. Research shows that celebrating diverse cultures is an important component of a well-rounded education, she discovered, and would mesh well with the academy’s “celebrating cultures” theme.

“Cultural content helps students review their preconceptions of certain cultures, and, with exposure, gain a better understanding of differing cultures, leading to better relationships among peers,” she noted.

Carfaro co-chaired the fair with Spanish teacher, Loretta Palmieri, and Kristin Bergin, music teacher. Students in grades five through eight were given a month to prepare a short presentation about their chosen country, complete with research and props. Younger students up to grade four visited the displays, carrying homemade “passports” which were stamped with stickers as they travelled around the world.

“Presentations ranged from learning a language, understanding religious practices and participating in and watching dances,” Carfaro said. “We had an elephant ride in India, dancing in Thailand, a ‘real’ mummy in Egypt, a mime and croissants in France, [and] traditional masks in Botswana.”

Eighth-grader Andrew built the Cathedral de Notre Dame from popsicle sticks with others in his French class and shared important facts about the building. Eighth-grader Mary Harbison stressed the importance of tailoring the presentations to the younger students.

“[The fair] gave them information and let the kids discover new things that would interest them,” she said.Harbison also noted that “They have to appeal to those of younger ages… be more interactive and less stationary in presenting,” she said.

Fellow eighth-grader Carleigh DiPasquale created a replica of a painting by Monet and a trifold about art, researching famous French paintings and French artists. “I thought the students traveling throughout the classrooms really enjoyed the multicultural fair because it was an alternative method of learning new things about the world,” she said.

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