by James Coulter
Students and their parents enjoyed a wunderbar time on Friday during the German Fall Fest hosted at Janie Howard Wilson Elementary.
All day, students were able to learn about Germany and its culture and traditions with various activities on the school playground.
The festivities were kicked off at the start of the school day, where all students showcased their Halloween costumes during the storybook character parade.
Throughout the day, classes from kindergarten to fifth grade took turns during each school hour to visit the playground area where they could toss foam axes, race to fill cider glasses, skirt about in scooter races, and have their faces painted.
Pretzels and other snacks were served for refreshments, while the Kona Ice truck was parked to serve their signature snow cones.
Brittany Alexander, Assistant Principal, and the other staff members hosted the event not only to teach their students about German culture but also to promote their new status within the International Bachelorette Program—an international educational program that, according to its website, “empower[s] school-aged students to take ownership in their learning and help them develop future-ready skills to make a difference and thrive in a world that changes fast.”
“Our goal is to expose students to more than is happening in their homes and Lake Wales,” Alexander said. “We give them the global context where they can see other cultures and countries…So our teachers are…allowing their students to be engaged and be a part of creating a culture of learning and exploration…It is no longer students sitting and learning, they are taking part in the classroom and they create a culture with their conversation.”
Now that their students are part of the IB Program, she hopes that they will be able to expand their minds and learn to become global citizens that help make their communities, both local and global, a better place to live.
“[Our] overall goal is to provide an excellent education for our students that is not only top-notched and rigorous,” she explained. “We want our students to be challenged and pushed, but we also want to create an environment where they can think outside of the box and themselves. So the incorporation of the IB and that international mindfulness will let our students know there is a world outside of Lake Wales and how they can be active participants to make the world a better place because they lived in it.”
Kim Griffin, the Principal, appreciates how the event allowed parents and their children an opportunity to come together to not only learn about other cultures in other communities around the world but also learn to be better citizens in their local community.
“I am so appreciative of all the parents and teachers who come to support the event,” she said. “We want to be involved and show that our schools are involved in our community. And we want our parents to come out on our campus and support and see what their children do. What we are doing is expanding awareness of cultures outside of the United States. And what games the other children might play in other countries so there is more kindness and respect going on.”
Deanna Holtsclaw attended that day to volunteer her time for the event. As a member of the Parent Teacher Organization, she dedicates her time to help assist not only in her children’s education but the education of other children through her involvement.
“I think it is wonderful they are teaching about different diversities of the world and cultures because our children need to know what is going on outside their school and country,” she said. “[I love] just the smiles on kids’ faces as they learn new games and words and have fun exploring a different culture…I have seen so much growth and development, and I am excited to see what the future holds.”