World Fest Field Trip a “World Beater!”

worldfest1By Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus

At St. Francis, we realize education happens everywhere, all the time, and not just in the confines of a classroom (even if ours are not too confining!). A perfect example of this occurred last Friday when Lower School Spanish teacher Salema Jenkins organized and took our 2nd through 4th graders downtown to experience the annual WorldFest celebration on the Belvedere. What an undertaking! The mere thought of being in charge of 80+ young children in a downtown setting abuzz with life and music and a multitude of strangers would make most of our heads spin. But Salema pulled this field trip off with tremendous aplomb and to rave reviews. From Salema:

“Last Friday, September 2nd, 82 St. Francis students and about 40 chaperones invaded the Belvedere to take part in WorldFest 2016! For the past two years, I have always shared with students that WorldFest was happening Labor Day weekend. Last year at WorldFest, I lamented to Kristin Gilbert, SFS parent and owner of Gelato Gilberto, that many students desire to attend, but can’t. She then suggested that I bring them. Why? Experiences like WorldFest or traveling to other countries bring to life what students are learning in school in ways that may never be achieved within the confines of a building. It also humanizes the languages they are learning; it puts a face with the language they learn each week. What a great idea she had given me! So, I decided a year ago that I would bring all of my students to WorldFest next year!

Some of the highlights of the trip included seeing all of the smiling faces as I walked by, hearing that 2nd grade students demonstrated leadership qualities and walked up to various vendors to complete a scavenger hunt, and watching 2nd and 3rd graders dance to the beat of a steel drum.

I had the opportunity to thank Kristin on Sunday for giving me this idea, and I am thanking her again publicly. St. Francis students were also able to enjoy delicious gelato from their stand at WorldFest, as it was one of the items on their scavenger hunt (they had to find out what country gelato comes from). Other items on their scavenger hunt included dancing on the dance floor during one of the performances and having their chaperone record or take a picture, and asking someone whose first language was not English or Spanish to teach them how to say “hello.”

For the majority of their experience, students walked around to each vendor to see their beautiful crafts, taste the amazing food (or at least smell it!), and see what information and resources vendors had geared towards children. Anne Farra even challenged her students to see how many free items they could collect. At last count, they were able to get 20 free items from vendors, including Turkish food. Even Baby Wyvern enjoyed that free treat!

At 1:00 p.m., the 4th grade students and their chaperones had the incredible opportunity to witness 156 people representing 46 countries become citizens of the United States. They also witnessed their curriculum come to life as an alumna of St. Francis School personally answered one of their guiding questions of why people set out for the unknown. They listened as one of the speakers read Maya Angelou’s poem, “Still I Rise,” a poem that they themselves had just read in Language Arts with Sarah Dewberry and Joanne Brock.

This trip truly encompassed what progressive education should be like. This trip integrated fine arts, world language, social studies, music, language arts, and even a little math, especially when they wanted to buy both a churro and a bubble machine, and had to figure out if they had enough money.

I’d like to thank the almost 40 parents and chaperones who accompanied us to WorldFest and all of the families who returned Saturday, Sunday, or Monday to enjoy the fun together as a family. I’d like to also express gratitude to Brent Turner of the Office of City Events who helped me with planning the trip as well as with the 4th graders attending the Naturalization Ceremony. Next year I hope that more students will be able to experience WorldFest!”

If I knew how to say “major kudos” in Spanish, I would, but instead I’ll just say, “Muy Bien, Salema!”