Apache Elementary students step into teaching

Noel Lyn Smith
Fifth-graders Kaitlyn Hazell, left, and Samantha Quackenbush perform a traditional Thai dance during Multicultural Day on Thursday at Apache Elementary School.

FARMINGTON – Fifth-grade students at Apache Elementary School stepped into a teaching role Thursday when they shared class projects with students from other grades.

As part of the fifth-grade curriculum, students completed research projects that focused on countries throughout the world. The information they gathered was shared with students throughout the school as part of a Multicultural Day the fifth-grade classes held Thursday.

Fifth-graders Gabriella Velazquez, 11, and Mia Toledo, 11, learned about Egypt, and shared their research about the country’s currency and culture, and facts about the Nile River on large poster boards.

The girls added flair to the project by displaying models they made of gemstones and a pyramid. Velazquez said the models served as a teaching tool for the younger students.

“It was fun to interact with them,” Toledo said about the event.

Fifth-graders Mariah Flores, left, and Diamond Nez talk about the report they compiled on Switzerland during Multicultural Day on Thursday at Apache Elementary School.

Each of the fifth-grade classrooms was filled with conversation as students asked questions and talked about the various projects. At one of the tables, fifth-grader Kate McDaniel, 11, chatted about Thailand while helping a group of students make origami swans out of white paper.

“Swans are really important to Thai life,” McDaniel said during her lesson.

McDaniel worked with classmates Kaitlyn Hazell, 11, and Samantha Quackenbush, 11, on brochures that listed information about the country, which is located in Southeast Asia.

Hazell and Quackenbush added to the lesson by demonstrating a Thai dance.

Megan Sierz, the fifth-grade writing teacher at Apache Elementary, said the event enhanced the students' learning experience.

“It’s on them to show what they know, and they’re doing that and they’re having fun,” she said.

The Multicultural Day also tied into the fifth-graders learning about Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani human rights activist who advocates for the education of girls.

Fifth-graders Mia Toledo, left, and Gabriella Velazquez lead other students in an activity aimed at helping them learn about Egypt during Multicultural Day on Thursday at Apache Elementary School.

Sierz said when the students were learning about Yousafzai, they did not know where Pakistan is located, so the lesson grew into learning geography and about cultures from around the world.

“Doing our research reports gave them an in-depth understanding of, not just geography, but of culture and how culture is different and unique,” she said.

Sierz also reached out to the Malala Fund to receive a copy of the documentary “He Named Me Malala,” which students watched Wednesday, and they collected nine large bags filled with gently used children’s clothing to donate to the fund.

The fifth-grade class also hosted a powwow Thursday evening, where the students' projects were displayed.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.