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New Salem Elementary holds third annual International Day

New Salem Elementary students pose for a quick photo during a recent International Festival at the school. Students in Jessica Harris' fifth-grade class, from left, Matthew Little (Scotland), Danielle Tucker (Netherlands), Stephanie Brasier, (Japan), and Alan McRae (Mexico). Students were encouraged to wear their favorite international costume to school in honor of the festival. (Below) New Salem Elementary staff performs a skit in which a tooth fairy explains the traditions around the world. Pictured, from left, are Janet McGarvie, and Jessica Harris.

New Salem Elementary School is working hard to build a reputation as being a school that’s globally aware. In fact, they’ve been designated an International School for the past two years in a row.

“We have taken the globalization piece of (Superintendent) Dr. Davis’ G.I.G. initiative and run with it,” said New Salem Elementary principal Neil Hawkins. G.I.G. is an acronym for Globalization, Innovation and Graduation.

Anyone visiting New Salem Elementary during a recent International Festival would be convinced that students attended the school from every country in the world. Staff and students turned out in colorful costumes from around the world during the school’s third annual festival.

The day featured an assembly program, skits, craft activities, special speakers and international games. Students were encouraged to wear their favorite international costume to school. The New Salem Staff Drama Team treated the school to a performance about the tooth fairy’s traditions around the world.

Even the school’s cafeteria got in on the excitement by offering an international buffet including cheese quesadillas from Mexico, egg rolls from China, pizza from Italy and hot dogs from the USA.

New Salem Elementary School students Alex Gaura, a fifth grader, and Sarah Warren, presented information on countries they had visited. Alex spoke about his trip to New Zealand, while Sarah, in second grade, talked about living in Swaziland, Africa.

Three Unionville Elementary School students traveled to New Salem to share personal insight into their countries, two from China and one from Germany. Wyatt Brown, a Unionville Elementary fifth grader, presented on his trip to Germany. Two adopted children from China, Jacob Starnes, a third grader, and Mia Knight, a first grader, spoke on their experiences.

“Throughout the morning, students rotated to different stations around the school so these students could teach them about where they had traveled,” Hawkins said. “We’ve learned the value and the power that can be found of students teaching students. It’s amazing.”

To document their “travels,” each student recorded facts and placed a sticker of the flag of the country they “visited” on their passports.

“They got to experience at least five or six different countries throughout the day,” Hawkins said. “This is so students can experience a full day of international awareness.”

This year, the school partnered with Unionville Elementary to bring even more global experiences. Unionville Elementary Principal Sharyn VonCannon was the keynote speaker at the festival, sharing about her trip to the Dominican Republic. “It makes teaching so much easier when schools collaborate and work together,” VonCannon said of the partnership.

Hawkins said through events such as the International Fair, he hopes to “promote global literacy by encouraging communication, acceptance, understanding and collaboration in a diverse, interdependent world.”

The focus on global education doesn’t just come during the festival. Every grade level at the school has adopted a country from around the world. “Teachers integrate various things throughout the year as it relates to that country,” Hawkins said. “If they’re studying plants, they may also look at the plants in Brazil.”

The event, referred to as “Passport to the World” is always a favorite of not only staff, but students as well.

Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, UCPS Communications Coordinator
Posted: Apr 18, 2012 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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