SCHOOLS: ALPHA HART LEWIS
By CAMILLE PHILLIPS
It was a night for new tastes and experiences on Thursday, April 28, at Alpha Hart Lewis Elementary, and parents and students showed up in droves to eat snacks, make crafts, hear music and experience cultures from around the world at the school’s first multicultural night.
Students made their way through the crowded hallways covered in artwork to visit the pod for each grade level, where they got their passport stamped for the country, continent or state being featured.
In the Asia pod, third-grader Gerald Wills made an origami dog with the help of second-grade teacher Beth Kline.
“Hey, Tyson, I can help you make one,” Gerald told his 5-year-old brother.
In the Australia pod, third-graders Kyla Gravitt and Jada Wade tried a chocolate cookie called a Tim-Tam while aboriginal music played in the background. The girls said the cookie tasted like a Butterfinger. Lewis teacher Diana Knutson encouraged the students to be brave and try Vegemite on a cracker.
“They eat it like we eat peanut butter,” Knutson told the kids.
In the North America pod, 2-year-old Anthony Marine waited for his chips and salsa. The station was focusing on Mexico. “Say ‘thank you,'” his grandmother, Vanita Marine, prompted Anthony.
Across the hall at the craft station, sisters Bekah Lynn, 5, and Alani Lynn, 6, made piñatas out of white paper bags, bright-colored tissue paper squares and glue. Kindergarten teacher Shelly Nowlin said they were stuffing them with recycled shredded paper and candy.
Bekah was making a face out of the tissue paper on her piñata. She pointed out the little white teeth and said, “This is a monster piñata.”
In the Africa pod, third-grader Sokhna Seck watched the video of students singing an African song. A month ago, she and her mother Aida Sene and her 2-year-old brother NDiaga Seck were living in Senegal. Sokhna, NDiaga and their cousins and aunt, who moved to Columbia four years ago, dressed in traditional clothes from their home country in honor of multicultural night.
“They love it, though — they don’t want to leave,” said Sene of the kids.
In the South America pod, a giant paper tree climbed the wall. The ceiling lights were covered in green paper to dim the room and tinge it green as if it were a rain forest. Paper butterflies created by students hung from the ceiling as well. The craft for South America were crosses made of Popsicle sticks and yarn.
“Do you want blue or green?” a teacher running the craft station asked, holding up the yarn to show a group of kids.
In the Europe pod, students and adults could try Greek baklava and try a french toy called a bilboquet: a ball attached to a string tied to a cup. The game is to try and put the ball in the cup.
Kindergartner Luis Robledo was determined to master the game. He tried over and over to get it in, to the smiles and laughter of his family.
“I almost got it, Mom,” he shouted, looking up at Judith Robledo before returning his intent gaze to the ball and cup.
Like many of the kids, Luis was sporting a lei from the Hawaii pod.
The final pod represented at the multicultural night was Alaska.
At the end of their rounds, the students turned in their completed passports in the media center for a free book. The book featured the region they had been studying in preparation for the event, said teacher Traci Homgren.
Twin Elias and Mekhi Owens both got the book “Bread, Bread, Bread” because they both are in kindergarten, but their sister Stacia Owens, who is in fourth grade, got a book about South America called “The Great Kapok Tree.”
In the cafeteria, hot dogs, chips and soda were served as part of a baseball theme. A live jazz band played music on the adjacent stage. Red St. Louis Cardinal balloons and blue Kansas City Royals balloons hung throughout the room.
Fourth-graders Tori Graves, Meredith Jones, Toni Graves, Maddie Collier and Sierra Key were enjoying orange sodas and hot dogs in the cafeteria after visiting the pods. Most of the girls liked the rain forest from South America best, but Sierra said she liked the cinnamon sugar donuts from North America more.