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The Newtown International Center for Education (NICE) and its NICE Parent Community Organization (NICE PCO) led initiatives in the district’s school to mark International Education Week, November 13 to 17.
According to the NICE PCO, International Education Week is a joint initiative of the US Department of State and the US Department of Education. It is an opportunity for schools, colleges, businesses, associations, and community organizations across the nation to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide.
Events and activities were held in the schools during International Education Week, and NICE PCO announced that Newtown students celebrated the week with international music and fun facts, by watching international movies, and by eating special themed food created by Whitsons Culinary Group, the district food service provider, during lunches.
A number of school morning announcements, shared over the loudspeaker, offered lessons and cultural celebrations. The Pledge of Allegiance was read at Newtown High School each morning in a different language. On November 15, NHS Assistant to the Principal Nathalie de Brantes said the Pledge over the loudspeaker in French. Flags and posters were also set up around the school in honor of the week, and music played during lunch. For International Kindness Day, celebrated on November 16, NHS students were asked to think of something kind they could do and perform an act of kindness.
Students at Middle Gate Elementary School shared different languages during the morning announcement at the school also, under the coordination of third grade teacher Leanne Connors.
“It’s been a very empowering week for the kids,” said Ms Connors before the final group of students shared the morning announcements on November 17. She said that students who speak other languages and/or grew up in another country were asked to represent those countries in the morning announcements. On Friday, students spoke Russian, Dutch, Khmer, and Italian.
The words to “hello” and “goodbye” were also posted on the walls at Middle Gate for students to learn greetings in other languages.
At Head O’ Meadow Elementary School, students also used different languages during the morning announcements. On November 16, students ate quesadillas served by Whitsons Culinary Group for lunch with rice and beans.
As part of Reed Intermediate School’s recognition of the week, international flags were on display in the school’s cafetorium and students wore ethnic clothing or international jerseys on November 16.
For International Education Week, one Hawley Elementary School class had a special video interview session using Skype. Parent Marybeth D’Amico coordinated the Skype session between Francesco Pelliccia from Perugia, Italy, and Michael Poeltl’s fourth grade class, which her son James is in.
Francesco, who is in his last year of high school in Italy, attended Newtown High School as a junior last school year. He lived with the D’Amico family through the exchange program with Cultural Homestay International and its Work Exchange Program (WEP). James created a PowerPoint presentation to introduce Francesco to his fellow fourth graders before the Skype session. The students had prepared questions, and each student had a chance to speak with Francesco.
Francesco spoke about some of the food differences between the two countries, his favorite sports, and his favorite things to do.
“We have so much more homework than you do… I think that is true,” Francesco said. The fourth graders gasped.
Francesco also taught the students some words and sayings in Italian.
After the Skype session, Ms D’Amico shared that hosting Francesco through the exchange program was “such a positive experience.” James and his older sister, Clara, who is a sixth grade student at Reed, had an older brother for a year.
“It was a wonderful experience,” said Ms D’Amico.
More information about NICE and the NICE PCO is available online at nicenewtown.wixsite.com/nice.