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Lakewood Elementary School takes pride in Celebrating Differences
LAKEWOOD Lakewood Elementary School students received age-appropriate lessons on respecting the cultures and backgrounds of several different ethnic groups at the schools annual Celebrating Differences diversity event Feb. 1-2.
On the second day of the diversity event, the schools kindergarten and first-grade students learned about disability awareness through a performance by the Kids On the Block troupe of puppeteers. Second-graders attended workshops designed to simulate various disabilities, including visual and hearing impairments.
On both days of Celebrating Differences, students toured through a miniature cultural fair in the portable classrooms, viewing displays and hearing speakers from various national and ethnic groups.
The event boasted miniature exhibits on the countries, citizens, shelters and wildlife of Australia, Belize, China, South Korea, the Philippines and Taiwan, as well as including a map tracking the paths and progress of the pioneers who settled the western United State
Sadly, one of the longest-running fixtures of Celebrating Differences was notably absent this year. Everett resident Clif Ervin had previously offered samples of his African-inspired woodcarving and musical instruments for the past half-dozen years but he was not able to attend this year because of radiation treatments, said the coordinator of Celebrating Differences for the past decade, Dave Duzan, the second-grade special education teacher at Lakewood Elementary.
You get so used to seeing him there, at the center of a fascinated clutch of kids, playing his instruments, that when hes gone, the first thing you notice is, Wheres Clif?, said Duzan.
The kids especially enjoyed the noisemakers that Ervin demonstrated, such as his polished rib bones, wrist and ankle bracelets of goat toenails, and ornate box drums, which are more stylized replicas of the hollow log drums that African tribal members use to communicate over distances, Duzan added.
This years event had gained, however, several other layers of interactivity, such as a large map which students marked to indicate where they or their families had come from, thereby lending the subsequent cultural fair a greater sense of context.
Duzan reported that Celebrating Differences recruited more parent volunteers this year. Some brought souvenirs of world travels, while those who were disabled offered insights into the obstacles they face each day, bringing tools such as light-up text-message telephones used by the deaf.
When you start off in kindergarten with the message that students should treat one another fairly and with respect, theyre already very well-rounded by the time they get to second grade, Duzan said. We try to help them embrace both the differences and similarities in one another. Its definitely worthwhile to increase their awareness of how to deal with others, so that this respect for all other shapes, sizes, colors and abilities becomes an ongoing, year-round thing.