The sounds of the Wiggs Middle orchestra greeted the students and parents that attended the first World Expo event at Mesita Elementary School.
The Expo gave Mesita and Wiggs the opportunity to highlight programs like Connecting Worlds, Widening Our World, the Mandarin Enrichment and others that have made the two schools popular among parents in the region.
“We thought this was a great opportunity to showcase what is going on at our school as far as programs, activities within and beyond the curriculum, as well as what will happen when the students attend Wiggs. This is a shared team effort,” Mesita Principal Laila Farris said.
The Connecting Worlds/Mundos Unidos program emphasizes the importance of a dual language education by providing dual language for all students, not just English Language Learners.
“We believe dual language is important for every child who wished to be bilingual and bi-literate,” Farris said. “This is Mesita’s nineteenth year offering dual language to our community.”
Students also have the opportunity to learn Chinese through the school’s Mandarin Enrichment Program, which is only available at Mesita.
“It is important for the students to learn about different cultures, and in the world lots of people speak Chinese,” Mandarin teacher Sonia Chang said. “In the beginning we learn basic vocabulary and then I teach them sounds. Once they can do the sounds, they learn Chinese quickly.”
Chang doesn’t just teach students about the languages but the culture as well. She taught the students about Qingming Festival, which closely resembles the Mexican holiday of the Day of the Dead.
“Every year the Chinese people go to the cemetery to worship their ancestors by bringing fresh flowers and food,” Chang said.
An important part of the Qingming is flying kites, so the students at Mesita will have the opportunity to make their very own Chinese kites and fly them at school next week.
Active Learning Leader Lourdes Sianez also incorporates hands-on activities to better immerse students in different cultures.
“Sometimes the kids aren’t aware of what is out there, and it is our job as teachers to teach them as part of their education to expose them to these different things,” Sianez said. “Yes, they can read a book or article about something but it’s not until they are actually in it trying to do something like art or dance that they really capture the information.”
Besides fine arts and language Mesita and Wiggs emphasized the importance of STEM related programs and clubs, like Destination Imagination, robotics and the chess club.
Fifth-grade student Demetrio Gonzalez competed at state for through the Destination Imagination program after he placed at regionals. Although he didn’t place at state, he feels the experience has helped him grow as a student and person.
“Destination Imagination really helps build the creativity of kids by challenging them,” Demetrio said. “It’s a very fun program.”