The fifth grade has been busy exploring a wide range of cultures. We learned about Ancient India and Persia in October, and celebrated Deepavali in mid-November with a big, merry crowd of family and friends. In preparation, the class made oil lamps with Susan Junge, and created rangoli, or colored sand paintings, in their geometry class. For the festival, they dressed in silk costumes from India. The class enacted a ceremony for Lakshmi, the goddess of fortune, sang a kirtan to Siva, and performed an Indian village stick dance. Then we ate, drank, chatted, and romped with our families in honor of the lunar New Year. It was very meaningful and poignant to celebrate a ceremony that we first experienced with our dear teacher and colleague, Mrs. Kalmath.
The next day was our first assembly, and the class got to show some of their bookwork, sing a new song, and demonstrate their juggling and plate-spinning skills.
During our geography block, we got into an imaginary clipper ship and sailed from the waters of Greenland down to Cape Cod, then on to Chesapeake Bay, down past the Okefenokee Swamp, around the Everglades, through the West Indies, and on to the bayou in the Gulf of Mexico. We went around Mexico and Central America, then back up the Pacific coast, around Alaska, and into the islands of Northern Canada. I don’t think any of us knew there were so many places where alligators live, nor that there are people on our beautiful planet who don’t ever eat vegetables! We listened to music from different cultures of North America: Quebecois fiddle, Cuban son, Louisiana zydeco, Jamaican reggae… an extraordinary variety of styles. We ended the block up among the Inuit; in the spring, we’ll come home by…balloon!
—Class teacher Lesley Finlayson