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School is a window on the world

May 29, 2014
By J.T. Whitehouse , The Town Crier

It looked like a United Nations gathering at Poland McKinley Elementary School on Friday as students in the fifth and sixth grade got to dress according to their nationality and sample food from other countries. It was all part of Nationality Day, which is a reward for months of study in social study classes.

The event was put on by McKinley social study teachers Thad Wright and Andrew Mamula. The whole program actually began in the classroom at the start of the school year.

''The fifth graders study the Western Hemisphere in social studies while the sixth graders studied the Eastern Hemisphere,'' Wright said.

Article Photos

Photos By J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
Sampling foods from around the world is McKinley student Makaiya French, whose own ethnic heritage is from France.

Over the past two months, each student had to put together a PowerPoint presentation on their own national heritage and present it in the classroom as part of their course work.

''They all did an excellent job this year,'' Wright said.

As a reward, Wright and Mamula team up with the McKinley PTO to hold a special luncheon. Parents and family members are invited to attend and join their child for the luncheon.

As for what is one the menu, each student had to come up with a dish from their heritage country. The dishes were brought to school and set up by the PTO members.

''We organize the lunch and have about 15 moms working it as servers,'' said PTO member and event chair Carol Dalesio. ''It really makes the kids happy.''

All the ethnic foods were stretched out on over a dozen long tables in the school auditorium. Students and their families could then sample whatever they wanted.

Besides the plethora of food, the students also were invited to dress in their nationality's dress. The students covered nearly every part of the globe, but it seemed that Italy had the largest representation.

Later that day, each classroom had guest speakers come in and talk about specific countries, the customs and other interesting information.

''They get to learn a lot about different cultures and people,'' Wright said.

He said the Nationality Day program has been held for over 20 years and has become a big end-of-the-school year hit with students. He said ever since the first one was held, it has been the PTO moms who have made it a success.

''I appreciate the PTO,'' Wright said. ''They put Nationality Day together. All their hard work and effort has made it a success year after year.''



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