CALIFORNIA – A trip through the halls of California High School and the District Middle / Middle School in recent days was similar to a hike around Epcot’s World Showcase at Walt Disney World Resort.
“Holidays Around the World” featured door and hallway decorations in schools to celebrate the different cultures and traditions of many countries around the world.
“It started right around Thanksgiving as we brainstormed ideas to educate our students about culture, while also highlighting different ethnicities and cultural trends from around the world,” said Josh Pollock, associate principal. “A group of students in each class chose a different country, religion or ethnic tradition and did their own research (on the topic given to them).”
Students then begin to decorate classrooms, doorways, or surrounding areas so that the classroom represents a country, religion, or ethnicity. There were about 25-30 countries represented, ranging from France to Spain to Norway to Russia, to Barbados to the good ol ‘United States.
“Different colors are used for each holiday, different symbols,” Pollock said. “They decorated it all. They have done everything to make their doors really fantastic. It really livened up the school.
The doors were decorated with the flags of that country, as well as something that would represent the holiday traditions of that country, such as how to say Merry Christmas in the native language.
The door depicting France was accompanied by a model of the Eiffel Tower and shoes near a fireplace to represent a tradition in which French children receive gifts in the shoes they place for Santa Claus or Father Christmas.
Those who worked at the Porte de la France, which is the door to math teacher Tricia Reposky’s classroom, were seniors Tayla Pascoe, Gianna Grillo, Arabella Colditz and Gianna O’Brien, as well as Reposky.
“We had to be creative and had to learn facts about (the country we were assigned to), so not only the little kids who visited, but we were also learning,” Pascoe said. “For France, we learned that they eat 13 desserts.”
The 13 desserts are a French Christmas tradition that incorporates a variety of candies, nuts and other tasty items to end a great holiday supper.
Other elements on various doors included the Northern Lights over the Iceland Gate, a depiction of the interior of the Colosseum in Rome, Italy, and ugly sweaters as a whimsical take on the Ireland Gate decorations.
There were also doors representing Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. There was also a door with Olaf from “Frozen”, with how to say Merry Christmas in many languages.
Additionally, Huffman’s desk was decorated to represent the North Pole, with a slot for letters to Santa Claus.
The students worked on the project during off-peak hours – after school, before school, lunch times – so they didn’t miss any lessons.
Pascoe said the students noticed other doors that were being decorated and that they would do their best to improve theirs, even though it wasn’t really a competition.
“At first we thought it was enough to do this,” Pascoe said. “Then we saw the door to the art room and it was extreme. The robotics class made a moving Santa Claus. Then the kids would say ‘our door is better’, and it became a little competition to see who was better. “
Principal Ray Huffman said work on student presentation skills was also highlighted as part of the “Holidays Around the World”.
“The children who presented became experts,” he said.
This was important since the students in grades 4-6 came to visit on Monday to see the finished decorations and learn about the different countries. Older students made presentations to their younger counterparts about their research.
“Younger students don’t understand like an adult would, so students had to learn to present for an age-appropriate platform,” Pollock said. “It was like story time with the kids.”
Pascoe said high school students could ask their young friends questions about the country designed on their doorstep, such as the height of the Eiffel Tower.
“We got them involved,” Pascoe said. “They learned about things that are going on there that are different from America for Christmas. The kids really liked it. It was something they were eagerly awaiting that they will have the opportunity to do in high school.
To maintain multicultural awareness, students in high school Spanish classes went to primary school on Tuesday and sang Christmas carols such as “Jingle Bells” in Spanish.
“We’re such a small district that we wanted to make it a district-wide initiative,” Huffman said. “For primary school children, these (older) students are their heroes. It was a way of touching them. “