A World of Nations

by Michael Porter
The World of Nations celebrates the cultural diversities of our student body, headlined by presentations by our wonderful families. This February, we had 21 countries presented by 25 parents and grandparents.
The day began with a school-wide assembly in the auditorium, where the students were treated to a traditional Indian dance. Ms. Cristina Knodel and Ms. Debbie Cannington welcomed the students, and introduced our parent "ambassadors" from various countries around the world.
"Learning about other countries is vital for elementary school students as it fosters a broader understanding of the world beyond their immediate surroundings, cultivating empathy, cultural appreciation, and global awareness," said Ms. Knodel. "By exploring diverse cultures, traditions, and languages, children gain a more inclusive perspective, which not only enriches their education but also prepares them to navigate an increasingly interconnected and diverse world with respect and understanding."

The parents and grandparents set up poster boards with photos and fun facts from their countries. The students had the opportunity to visit various locations on campus to learn from every presenter. 
"The presenters love getting the chance to share their cultures with all of our students," said Kamryn St. Thomas, Annual Giving and Family Engagement Manager. "It's extra special when their children or grandchildren rotate through their station."

Students from all grade levels felt the meaningfulness of the event.
"Earlier this year, first-grade students received postcards with sightings of the Gingerbread Baby from all over the world," said first-grade teacher Sarah Brinson. "With this event, many of the countries are brought to life for our students. Also, students feel a sense of pride in their heritage as they share their culture with their friends."
For the older students, the World of Nations was a direct fit with their Global Studies curriculum, where they have been learning about Greece, India, and China.
"In 5th and 6th grade, we learn about other cultures both ancient and medieval," said 5th and 6th grader teacher Dona Kenny. "The students were excited to see some of the countries we have been studying represented in our World of Nations event."

Chef Jim and the Dining staff continued the celebration into this week with themed lunch offerings featuring Indian, Puerto Rican, Jamaican, and Chinese cuisines.
"The first graders are especially excited about trying new foods this week in the dining room!" said Ms. Brinson.
This is the second year of the World of Nations in this format at JCDS.
"The event is growing and we hope to improve it each year," said Ms. St. Thomas. "It is such a unique opportunity we can provide for our students, showing them the world and its cultures through members of our own community."