DRESDEN — Sometimes the nations of the world come together in cooperation and friendship despite what the current political climate indicates.
Friday evening, the Pettis County R-VII School District in Dresden hosted a cultural event bringing together the school and community for a night of food, education and fun.
“We’re a very small school district,” Superintendent Amy Fagg said. “We have 142 students and we come from many different backgrounds.
“Tonight is a very nice event because it is authentic,” Fagg added. “The families know what they are talking about and describing because it is their heritage and way of life.”
Each grade chose a country and presented information about the history, customs and way of life of the people native to the region.
“The kindergarten and preschool class joined forces, but every other grade chose their own country,” said Rodney Iuchs, English language learner teacher. “We told the teachers they could pick the country and really do whatever they wanted to help others learn more about their respective nations.
“We also invited the area AFS students to come and share their stories with our students,” Iuchs said. “I think we are all really pleased with the turnout and we really want to thank the parents, teachers and especially the students for their support and hard work with this project.”
The classes selected the countries of Greece, Russia, Ghana, Japan, Guatemala, England, France and Jamaica for their presentations.
One class chose to write about the Native Americans creating a seven-foot totem pole as one of their representative items.
“My students love to read about animals, especially ones that are different and that aren’t found here in our region,” said third grade teacher Deana Pomajzl. “We’ve done a lot of research not only on the animals but their food and the games they play.
“This is the first year for the event and the kids are really excited about it,” Pomajzl added. “I know we are all looking forward to doing something like this again next year.”
Iuchs said the event is part of a program the school is trying this year.
“At the beginning of the school year the administration spoke to us about wanting to have something each month that would be an activity that we could do as a community event,” Iuchs said. “I started thinking about an event like this and it seemed like a good way for the students to learn about different cultures.”
Fifth grade teacher Trisha Voellinger co-sponsored the event with Iuchs.
“Rodney came to me with the idea,” Voellinger said. “It seemed like such a good idea that I said I was more than willing to help.
“My students chose Guatemala, I think in part because one of my students, Luisa, moved from there.”
Voellinger said one of the best parts of the program was watching the students get excited about researching the countries and then sharing that information to their classmates, friends, family and the community.
Mary Meehan, fourth grade teacher, also agreed.
“I think all of the students did a marvelous job and seemed very interested in the project,” Meehan said. “I think it is because they took ownership of the project and they had a real sense of responsibility in creating and sharing their information.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484