“Uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco” was shouted out by eager students at the beginnning of their physical education classes recently at Grand Prairie Elementary School. The month of September implemented a pre-kindergarten through second grade multi-disciplinary program on cultural awareness at the school.
Over the summer, Grand Prairie Principal Eileen Nelson met with social workers and the physical education department to discuss ways to enhance the school’s cultural awareness programs for staff and students. They implemented the new program that will focus on celebrations of different cultures each month. September was National Hispanic Heritage Month, October is German/Italian American Month, November is National American Indian/Native American Heritage Month and December is Jewish Cultural Awareness Month to correspond with Hanukkah and other cultural Holidays such as Kwanzaa. January will be Asian Awareness Month, February is National African American History Month, March is Greek/Irish American Heritage Month, April is Polish/Russian Awareness Month and May will be Middle Eastern Awareness Month.
Each day, a fact about the culture of the month is read during the announcements so the entire school can learn about that culture. This is enhanced through student participation in projects in their various classes. During September’s National Hispanic Heritage Month in art classes, art instructor Suzie Corkery incorporated Hispanic culture into her art lessons as students made and decorated sombreros and Spanish guitars. In physical education classes, along with learning to count in Spanish, students learned about bull fighting and soccer, did Spanish dances and played a freeze tag type game where students portrayed bulls and matadors. In music classes, music instructor Shannon Diehl had the students shake maracas to the beat of “Mama Paquita” a Brazilian carnival song. During their time in the Enrichment Learning Center, librarian Nicole Fazekas read the book “Off We Go To Mexico! An Adventure in the Sun”, taught some Spanish words and oversaw the students make a passport so they could “travel” to the different cultures each month. Students will get a stamp on their passports after each lesson. At the end of the school year they will have “traveled” around the world.
In addition, the students are incorporating their own culture to share with their class through the "star student" program. When it is the student’s turn to be the "star student” he or she can highlight their cultural background by bringing in a picture or object to share with their class. This way all students will have the opportunity to share and celebrate their own individual culture.
Grand Prairie Social Worker Amy Boucek-Noesen is pleased that the school has expanded its cultural awareness program. She stated, “Cultural awareness is a passion of mine and I’m so excited to see it happening at Grand Prairie!”