‘Students’ travel around the world

By Davy James, Staff Writer
   MONROE — The students of Applegarth Middle School were treated to a whirlwind vacation last week, and never had to leave their school.
   As part of the school’s third biannual El Mercado-Le Marche-Il Mercato event, classrooms were changed to represent 25 countries that students and parents visited June 6. The event is the result of seven months of class work and research by the students on Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese speaking countries.
   ”All of the classrooms were transformed into different countries and the students rotate through the classrooms as visitors with passports they made in class,” said Spanish teacher Jessica Consiglio. “They research information on their specific country including food, culture, history, travel information, sports and arts. Each room has interactive games where students learn information about each country.”
   Students were assigned different subject areas to specialize in and then presented the material to the rest of their class. Much of the information was put into designing games and activities visitors needed to complete in order to move on to a new country.
   ”The subject areas were broken up into groups and students were taught how to cite a source, research information, create a handout on their subject and they presented it to their class,” Ms. Consiglio said. “It’s a great experience for the kids to learn about other countries and it opens their eyes to the daily life in those countries compared to ours.”
   The day featured a photo booth that puts visitors in front of a country’s scenic background making it appear as if they visited the site. In addition, the all-day event was catered with ethnic foods and had a dance performance by a company that specializes in showcasing Latin American dances.
   The highlight of the day for many students is the marketplace, where the gym is transformed into a giant market selling goods and crafts made by the students. The products were purchased with money students earned in class through good behavior, making scenery and crafts and doing any extra work, according to Ms. Consiglio.
   ”The most fun part of the day is going to the actual marketplace,” said eighth-grader Haarika Reddy. “You get to barter with everyone. We set higher prices so they try to make us lower it. It’s a lot of fun because we all worked really hard and stayed after school to finish.”
   The gym also held a booth for face painting and a smoothie machine. The marketplace featured a large table in the center of the gym with all sorts of crafts, like paper flowers, picture frames, bookmarks and pins.
   The students had to complete various activities in order to get their passports stamped to move on to other countries.
   ”It’s good because everyone gets to know information about each country by playing all types of games,” said eighth-grader Jacob Skibniewski.
   Eighth-graders Josh Polefka and Nick Wolfson said they enjoyed playing the games from all the different countries.
   ”It’s cool to see how everything was put together,” Josh said. “Also, to see how hard everyone worked on the different games.”
   Ms. Consiglio said the students gained a leg up on high school by doing research-based assignments and the event enlightens them about other cultures.
   ”We’re able to bring the students an authentic learning experience,” Ms. Consiglio said. “They probably won’t be able to travel to all these countries in their lifetime so we bring the countries to Applegarth for them.”