For many years, Eastern Christian Elementary School has worked school-wide project each year where students learn about a common theme at an age-appropriate level. This Project Based Learning (PBL) always culminates in a special event for the students, but every few years, the culmination is an extra special community night where parents and visitors are invited to see what the students have been learning throughout the year.
For the last two years, ECES has been partnering with The School of Hope, a Christian School in Haiti. The School of Hope has grown significantly in the last year, and it is exciting for our students to be a part of that growth! This year, the team of teachers working to plan the PBL decided that students should learn about different aspects of the Haitian culture, and then students share what they learned throughout the year in a community night called “Hop over to Haiti.”
This past Thursday, our students were finally able to reveal all they have learned over the school year at the “Hop Over to Haiti” night. Each grade level had a special presentation. Kindergarten students shared a variety of games Haitian students enjoy playing like dominoes and hopscotch. First graders taught their audience how to speak different phrases in Creole, the main language in Haiti. Second grade students shared about the food and drink Haitians and gave the audience a cup of mango citrus juice to try. Third grade students shared about different types of artwork in Haiti such as metal art, basket weaving, and postcards. Fourth graders shared their information about Haitian instruments such as gourd shakers, keonts and tambourines, as well as Haitian dances. ECES was transformed into a school in a Haitian village through beautiful artwork made by students in art class, giving a visual representation of the Haitian culture to visitors.
Students worked for the last several months to learn their grade level’s topic for themselves by reading stories, research, looking at photos, and watching videos so they could communicate what they knew with their audience. The students prepared what they would tell the audience that came to their classroom, and divided presenting jobs among all of their classmates. Students were given specific time slots to report to their grade level’s presentation room to report their information. When students were not presenting, they were free to go to other grade level presentations and learn about other parts of Haitian culture.
The Hop Over to Haiti night was well received, and parents were exited to see how well prepared their children were as they presented. Students were eager to inform their audience about what they learned as well as learn more about Haiti for themselves. Over $450 was collected throughout the night from families seeking to financially support The School of Hope to help them buy school supplies for the students.
Partnering with The School of Hope in Haiti is a humbling experience for the staff and students at ECES. The students have learned over the last two years that while the students attending The School of Hope have very few material possessions, they are happy children and love going to school! ECES students were able to learn to appreciate a culture different from their own and that God is moving in incredible ways all around the world!