Around the World and Back Home the Same Day

On Friday, April 11, 220 first graders got off their school bus at John Paulding School in Tarrytown and embarked on a magical, multi-sensory journey – the School’s TRIP AROUND THE WORLD program.


Diane Edelstein shared her love of all things Italian with a group of John Paulding first graders. Photo by: Jaime Echt.

As they entered the School it became an "airport" where they checked their backpacks complete with airline luggage tags. Students were given colorful, individualized "passports" listing six country maps and facts.They then heard their "flights" being called for European, South American, and Asian destinations. From there they sampled typical snacks from their country of destination, such as home-made and hand assembled Scottish candy, Bavarian-style pretzels, specialty cheeses, and spelt. They took part in activities that included Italian opera, a Bagpipe demonstration, Japanese Origami art, and Ecuadorian folk dancing.

The TRIP AROUND THE WORLD program succeeded due to its true collaboration between the Elementary Parent Teacher Association (EPTA) and the dedicated staff. With the guidance of principal, Marilyn Mercado-Belvin, Co-chairperson, Jennifer Povman, parent volunteers, over 25 in number, many of whom work, or have other young children, spent weeks brainstorming, meeting, and implementing ideas to transform the school in décor and character. Parent participation determined which "countries" were represented. Parents worked alongside teachers to present their countries, while other volunteers and staff organized, decorated, and created the simulated airport and portals to far away lands. The event also showcased technology at its best, using Smart Boards to enhance the celebration of culture and geography.

According to Principal Mercado-Belvin, "This event gave us the opportunity to embrace and celebrate the rich resources found within our community. It is a celebration of cultures, talent, and commitment." This is a true mission for Mrs. Mercado-Belvin who also oversees Dual Language and English as a Second Language Programs in the district’s four elementary schools.

The John Paulding School is a public school that contains the entire district’s first grade, located in the heart of Tarrytown, close to sweeping views of the Hudson River. In this school, approximately 50% of the students come from a Spanish-speaking household and most of the classes have at least one teacher or assistant who is bilingual.

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About the Author: Jennifer Povman