Languages, literacy celebrated

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Glastonbury - posted Fri., Mar. 4, 2011
Students from Sarah Lindstrom's ninth grade Spanish class dress as conquistadors and native Americans as part of their project at the Foreign Language Literacy event on March 3. Photos by Steve Smith.
Students from Sarah Lindstrom's ninth grade Spanish class dress as conquistadors and native Americans as part of their project at the Foreign Language Literacy event on March 3. Photos by Steve Smith.

The Glastonbury school system celebrated its continued achievements and extra-cultural learning at the annual Foreign Language Literacy Showcase on March 3 at Smith Middle School.

Throughout the evening, foreign language teachers from all of the system’s schools hosted displays that presented their classes’ studies this year. Many used tri-fold displays, which depicted the literature and geography the students had learned about, and most included a technological component, with computers showing a PowerPoint presentation and/or interactive program.

GHS/SMS Spanish teacher Sarah Lindstrom’s ninth grade students wore conquistador and native American costumes, and interacted in character with passers-by, recounting parts of several books they had read about the Spaniards’ conquest of Central and South America.

“They did presentations on some of the more famous books written in the time period,” Lindsrom said, “like Christopher Columbus’s diary. They looked up the actual old Spanish, and found the English translations, and basically dressed like characters from those books.”

Lindstorm said the students worked on their presentation in group time during class.

“They’re a good group, and they really came through for me,” she said.

The evening also included the grand opening of a Russian/Chinese Resource Center, within the Smith Media Center. The project includes books, pictures, music, and other items collected during more than 50 years, and was made possible with a Foreign Language Assistance Program Grant from the Department of Education.

Director of Foreign Languages Rita Oleksak said the Resource Center will continue to grow.

“We worked long and hard,” Oleksak said. “We have a 50-year history of our Russian program here in the district. We’re working on improving and expanding our Chinese program.”

Smith Principal Donna Schilke said her school “got the prize” by becoming host to the center.

“I’m excited to see the shelves start to get filled, and the walls to get filled with the beautiful things we’re going to add to the building. The more the better.”

Schilke added that she hopes Smith and the entire school system becomes an example of global understanding.

“We talk a lot about technology, money, education and challenges,” she said. “It comes down to people understanding people in this world today, and I hope this school system lets everyone know that that’s where it starts.”

GHS junior Macaella Zubkov gave greetings in both Russian and Chinese. Zubkov also speaks Spanish, as well as English.

Other activities, such as face painting and a stationery and calligraphy lab took place through the course of the evening. Breakout sessions, called Read Around the World Activities, included workshops on Chinese, Russian, German, Albanian, and Dominican culture.

Parent volunteers Peter and Suzanne Shen read “Yeh-Hsien, a Chinese Cinderella,” in both English and Chinese to a group of students and their families, then the children were able to create their own Chinese lanterns.

Oleksak she was very pleased with the efforts of everyone who helped make the fun and educational evening come together.

“I couldn’t ask for anything more,” she said. “The projects’ level of detail is greater every year.”

Oleksak said technology has played a key role at the event, and in the classrooms.

“Some of the projects here are on the cutting edge of technology,” she said. “It’s not so much about making the technology fit, but it’s the curriculum and what [teachers] need to make it come alive for kids with the 21st century skills.”

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