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Radcliff Elementary students teach lessons in diversity

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Presentations focus of native lands of children's families

By Sarah Bennett

A small huddle of students sat cross-legged on the gym floor as they listened to Rose Choi, 10, share details of her native culture.

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A year ago, Rose and her family immigrated to the United States from South Korea. Today, she and her brother are students at Radcliff Elementary School and her family owns Song’s Restaurant on North Wilson Road.

Holding up a menu Thursday, Rose explained to her fellow students the different dishes featured at her family’s restaurant while teacher’s aide Guietta Martin stood nearby, dressed in Rose’s grandmother’s hanbok, a traditional South Korean dress.

Rose is one of several multicultural students at Radcliff Elementary. In an effort to encourage students to recognize and appreciate that, the school organized a diversity day, Principal Joan Cook said.

The faculty pulled together all nationalities represented by students at the school, Cook explained, and classes were assigned countries. Students then researched the countries and developed presentations, which included crafting posters and a public speaking portion.

On Thursday, students’ presentations lined the walls of the elementary school’s gym. Countries represented included Ireland, India, Mexico and Germany.

By the end of the school day, each student would have an opportunity to speak about his or her assigned country, Cook said.

The project allowed students to teach one another about their heritage, she said, which made the exercise particularly effective.

“A lot of times we notice our English language students are in the background,” Cook said. “This brings them to the front and makes them the experts.”

Esha Patel and Harsh Patel, both 8, who are not related, said their favorite part of the project was the opportunity to teach their friends about their native country, India.

Esha was born in India while Harsh’s mother emigrated from the country.

“We teach others what we know,” Esha said. “Then they tell others and they tell others. It goes on and on and on.”

“They would never get to know about it until we taught them,” Harsh said.

Standing in the middle of the gym Thursday morning, Cook said the students appeared to be enjoying the exercise. What struck her, however, was the reaction from students who typically remained in the background, she said.

“I’m seeing kids step into leadership roles that I haven’t before,” the principal said.

Sarah Bennettcan be reached at (270) 505-1750 or sbennett@thenewsenterprise.com.