YONKERS, N.Y. – Italy, Mexico, Israel, Morocco and India were just some of the countries that students in one Yonkers school visited to learn about holiday celebrations around the world.
Students in Montessori School 31 participated in an event titled "Polar Express," and traveled from classroom to classroom learning about how various countries celebrate the holidays.
Students, faculty and parents decorated classrooms to represent various countries. Some teachers read from books, some played slide shows, and some offered snacks to educate the students about the different cultures.
The Parent Teacher Association organized the event to expose the students to cultural celebrations they may not have known about before, said PTA co-President Claret Bahamundi.
"This is our first time hosting the event, and it's been such a great success," Bahamundi said. "We organized it in the spirit of the holidays as a way to be educational, but also interactive. We live in such a diverse community where families celebrate more than just Christmas. I know my daughter woke up this morning and just couldn't wait to get to school."
Learning about different cultures is the best way for children to appreciate them, said kindergarten teacher Dolores Amodeo.
"I love learning about different cultures and so do my students," Amodeo said. "Our class represents India, so I'm teaching about Diwali as part of the program. We've learned about India's native clothing, its national bird and a lot of culture. It's a great program for the kids, and they are just so interested."
Liani Fernandez, 7, was one of the many students participating in the event, and said the experience was very informative.
"It was fun to see how so many different people spend their holidays in such a short amount of time," Liani said. "I like Italy the best because they have good food. I helped with some of the decorations, and it was also fun. I thought everything was really pretty, and I had such a good time leaning."