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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Canyon View students look forward to traveling the world

Jul 30, 2019 02:51PM ● By Julie Slama

At the Madagascar booth, a Canyon View student gets his passport stamped as part of his world travels at the school’s annual cultural night and art stroll. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Want to go on an island getaway? How about Madagascar?

Canyon View Elementary students can tell you this island country in the Indian Ocean is about 250 miles off the East African coast and features wildlife rarely seen anywhere else on Earth — and that wasn’t learned from watching the 2005 animated movie.

“In Madagascar, there are lemurs and they have a lot of different animals and stuff than us — and it’s really hot,” kindergartner Willow West said as she and her dad, Dan, made mandalas by gluing colorful beans on paper in a distinct pattern.

Classmate Milli Santoro was with her dad, Jonathan, who also shared about traveling the world.

“There are lemurs, kitties with stripped tails, like my cat, Neko,” she said. “Learning that and eating tortellini in Italy are my favorites.”

Madagascar and Italy were two of the six countries students and their families could learn about with their passport for the school’s annual cultural night and art stroll.

“Parents and the PTA help teach students about the different countries and their culture,” parent Marianne Zenger said. “Our art teacher adds in art specific to the country, so families are able to see it while learning about the countries and tasting food. Our school choir performs and there’s a talent show so it rounds out the evening.”

Zenger was supporting at the event as her first-grader was sharing about Peru and her third-grader learned about Germany. 

Zenger has been to Germany, so she shared with students about German culture — its history, castles, Oktoberfest, food, language and even the students’ favorite thing to learn about: driving fast on the autobahn.

“It’s a fun night, one kids really look forward to every year,” she said, as she gave a student a prop for the German photo booth.

Art covered much of the hallway walls, with water-colored animals peering from leaves; painted Peruvian tapestries showing the traditional alpaca ponchos; abstract mandala circular designs made of crayon, paint and wax; Indian tribal folk art of vibrant-colored animals; Brazilian graffiti; as well as many other pieces of artwork that reinforced the core curriculum. 

Students who studied India learned about the country’s politics, religion, geology and educational system as well as saw some of its famous sites shared by a guest photographer, PTA volunteer and second-grade parent Shannan Erickson said, as she was dishing up some aloo matar curry and mango lassi for families to sample.

Her daughter Jane appreciated the event.

“There are so many other parts of the world, different than here where we live,” she said. “I want to actually go there now.”

Students also discovered a little about Brazil, from learning “oi tudo bem” means “hello, hope all’s well” to sampling a traditional brigadeiro or Brazilian fudge ball — and of course, talking soccer.

Parent Lacey Croft said she hoped her kindergartner and third-grader benefitted from this introduction to the world.

“I hope they are gaining an exposure to the culture, what the countries have and are known for, tasting some of their food and by learning simple phrases,” she said.

Students who learned how to say “hello” in the different countries could turn their “passports” in for Bengal Bucks to be used at the school store.

The event even drew Canyons School District Superintendent Jim Briscoe, who checked out the various countries’ booths as well as the mock city that students created entirely out of various sized boxes — and yes, he did look for a school. 

Briscoe also watched students perform in the talent show and listened to the school choir sing about several nations with “Picnic of the World.”

“It’s great to engage students in learning about cultures,” he said. “It’s always a wonderful event for families and the community.”