Olentangy Valley News

Alum Creek goes globetrotting

Epcot Day's cultural fun sends students around world in one day

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JOSHUA A. BICKEL/THISWEEKNEWS
Fourth-grader Maddy Allen gets a henna tattoo from parent volunteer Renuka Bhatt during Epcot Day, held last Thursday, Dec. 6, at Alum Creek Elementary School. The temporary body paints are common in many South Asian countries, especially as part of wedding ceremonies.
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A sightseeing tour around the world could take months or years -- but Alum Creek Elementary School students did it in just one day.

Last Thursday, Dec. 6, the school hosted its fourth annual Epcot Day, an all-day event featuring games, activities, music and more from around the world.

The event is named after Disney's Epcot theme park, half of which is themed around world cultures.

Instead of going to their regular classes, students in grades 1-5 spent the day in the hallways and gymnasium playing games, making crafts and learning about other countries.

Music teacher Meghan Anderson prepared her classes with lessons featuring music and dances from India. Her fifth-grade students performed the Dandiya Raas, an Indian folk dance, during an opening ceremony to start the day.

Anderson said Epcot Day is equal parts fun and learning.

"The great thing is how much they get to learn about people who may not be like them," she said. "The kids have such enthusiasm on this day, it's astounding. They talk about it for a long time after and just seem to have a joy about all the things they're learning."

In one hallway, students learned about day-to-day life in South Korea and played Korean board games.

At another station, they made German paper lanterns and learned how to celebrate St. Martin's Day, which marks the end of the growing season and the start of the fall harvest in Germany.

They also participated in a role-playing activity about Ellis Island, which served as a gateway harbor for millions of immigrants to the United States in the early 1900s.

Students were asked to pack an imaginary suitcase for the journey across the Atlantic Ocean to Ellis Island -- but they only had room for 10 items, so they had to be sensible.

Many parents and local residents who grew up in other parts of the world participated in the event to share their culture and customs.

"It's great to have them, because they talk to the kids and share their firsthand experiences about what it is like to live in those countries," Anderson said.

They even prepared some cultural dishes for students to try, such as a mango salsa from India.

Meanwhile, the Alum Creek gymnasium was packed with games and craft activities representing a wide range of countries.Students designed lemur bracelets from Madagascar, made Greek laurel wreaths and decorated a Mexican pinata.

Some students held the flags of all the countries they learned about during a closing ceremony, held in the school's commons area.

Teachers spent recent weeks in the classroom sharing lessons on world cultures to prepare students for the event.

It culminated in another memorable day for everyone involved, said Alum Creek secretary Kathy Culp.

"The kids might never have the chance to travel to some of these countries, so it's great that they get to learn a little bit about them and get a taste of what they're like," she said. "They absolutely love it."

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