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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

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R. C. Waters Elementary kindergartners recently students explored languages of the world with the help of some older friends.

Earlier this month, members of foreign language studies classes at Oak Harbor High School took a break from their regular routines to teach the younger children of the Benton-Carroll-Salem School District. The three-day event occurred while the regular teachers took part in the kindergarten roundup at the school.

The young students concentrated on basics, including the words for colors, numbers and animals in lessons in Spanish, French and German.

The languages were divided over the three days of the roundup, starting with Spanish on Monday, Principal Karen Gruber said.

 Lesson-1
Hannah Hess reviews the work of a kindergartners (from left to right) Chloe Priddy, Ford Joseph, Edward Brooks and Alyssa Pickering.
 Lesson-2
Amanda Hetrick helps a group of students with their animal pictures as David Birchall (in the background) moves to work with another table of kindergartners.

Weather forced the postponement of the French session on Tuesday when a three-inch spring snow blanketed the region, causing a two-hour school delay. The class was rescheduled for Thursday.

Seniors David Birchall, Hannah Hess, Amanda Hetrick and Nicole Weis took charge of the German session. Birchall, a member of the German-American Society and regularly attendee of the annual German-American Festival, says sharing his interest in the language seemed a natural fit.

He and his peers passed out dishes of paint colors to begin what became an entertaining language lesson. They explained numbers, color names and helped draw a myriad of animal pictures that the teens offered translations for from English to German.

“I don’t know if I know the name for a Minecraft bear in German,” Birchall told the substitute, Mrs. Barman. The kindergartners created many animals – squids, ostriches, sharks, bunnies and tigers, calling out the names. Their high energy engulfed the room.

“You draw a cat better than I do,” Birchall told Mya Huether.

“That’s because,” she exclaimed as she thrust her paper into the air with accomplishment. “I’m an artist.”

Keeping 5- and 6-year-olds on track is difficult in the best of circumstances with professionals at the helm, still, the teens managed pretty well in the first session of five morning programs.

“It was fun. They’re very talkative,” Hess chuckled as they headed down the hallway to a new classroom. “But they don’t have a very long attention span.”

During the Spanish session, students enjoyed the lesson about colors, Barman said. “It was nice because the crayons had the names in Spanish on them. The kids picked up on that,” she said.

The collaboration between grade levels grew out of the aspirations of the Intra-District Goals Committee, according to B-C-S board member Heather Dewitz, a committee member.

The committee is a catchall group charged with duties such as finding ways to heighten community awareness of school district activities, merging different grade levels in projects and pulling outsiders into the fold of the educational system. Years ago, kindergartners did not attend school during the roundup. Now they do but classes are overseen by substitute teachers while prospective students undergo testing in nearby rooms and the cafeteria.

“We talked about doing something different this year,” Dewitz said.

And, “I’m up for trying new things,” Gruber said.

Feedback has been positive in this experimental event, she said. “The foreign language teachers were excited because they don’t usually get asked to do things like this,” Dewitz added.

Unfortunately, Dewitz said, work obligations prevented her from observing the language lessons personally. She trusts the project will lead to more events like this.

“The older students get something out of it, teaching to the younger kids, and the younger students get something out of it, learning from the older students. And I think there’s value in that,” Dewitz said.

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