POUND RIDGE, N.Y. – The lines in the Pound Ridge Elementary School hallways and cafeteria were noisy and long on Monday as the young students queued up to have their “passports” stamped.
The passports weren’t the real documents, but rather part of a learning project that the students were undertaking as part of October’s Hispanic Heritage Month.
This year’s project called for each grade to select a particular Latino country to study – from its culture to its athletics to its cuisine-and even how their elementary schools operated. Then each grade created a large poster depicting information about that country, The posters were then placed around the school.
On Monday, each class took turns visiting each poster and heard facts about the countries they represented disseminated to them by their schoolmates. Once the lesson was complete, a sticker of the country’s flag was placed in each student’s “passport.”
Parents of the students also created dishes from the Latino countries that were studied and brought them to school on Monday.
“We made rice and beans with sweet plantains,” said Lee Goldstein, a parent of a second and fifth grader, who helped create this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month celebration. “The class was studying Ecuador,” she noted.
PRES parent Barbara Ingraldi helped Goldstein put the program together.
“We decided we wanted to do something different this year,” she said. “The parents did all the cooking and the participation has been great.”
Principal Tim Gembka, now in his second year, brought the idea of celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month to the school last year. He said it was something he took from his past experiences working at other schools. Last year, the school celebrated with a performance from Ballet Hispanico, a Manhattan-based dance troupe. However, this year’s celebration was more interactive.”
“It’s more expansive and more locally based,” Gembka said. “It’s more participatory. Some of the students were from a certain country so they chose that one to study – or they knew someone from there. This year is also more elementary-school based. They studied education and sports and what the school day was like in the country they chose to study."