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Spanish-language countries subject of middle school fair

If you had heard the comments at the recent Study Abroad Fair in the Middle School library, you might have thought it was a food exhibition.

“Vote for me, I have food.”

“It is really gooey and sweet; I guarantee you will like it.”

“Hey, let’s go find more food.”

While booths with food were big draws, there was a lot more to learn about the Spanish-speaking countries featured at this year’s fair.

The annual event is a culmination of a unit in which seventh- and eighth-graders choose a country to study in-depth. Students have three weeks to complete their research and must choose a minimum of six categories to explore, said Spanish teacher Jessica Buckner.

Attendees, including school staff and fellow students, were encouraged to ask questions. Each voted for the best or most informative display.

Exhibition space included colorful posters showing off countries’ traditions, foods, government and places of interest. Some exhibitors included artifacts from their country of choice, and many treated visitors to native tastes.

While many exhibitors chose  to serve unique foods such as dulce de leche, popular in Paraguay; or Cuban rice pudding, seventh-grader Kolten Paniwozik served tortilla chips from a bag, noting simply that it is commonly served in Mexico.

Seventh-grader Syrus Anderson visits classmate Kolten Paniwozik’s Mexico booth

From Chocolate to Salt Flats

Seventh-grader Faith Gonser chose Cuba for its tropical climate.

Brooke Buyze picked Argentina.

“I really like their culture,” said the seventh-grader. “They have a day to celebrate chocolate.”

Emma Janesat, seventh-grade, said she has wanted to travel to Spain ever since she heard about a school trip scheduled for next year.

“I really wanted to learn more about it,” she said.

One thing really fascinated her. “They have a parade called Las Fallas. They build really tall statues that stand for something they don’t like in politics. Then they burn them.”

Eighth-grader Kolbe VanderLeest chose Bolivia. “I found it very interesting. There are so many special attractions there; I especially like the salt flats,” she said.

Eighth-grader Jocelyn Garza called the project “fun and challenging — a way to help us learn more about the different cultures in different Spanish-speaking countries.

“Although we were competing for a shot at winning against one another, we all still collaborated and helped each other out,” she said. “I know all my classmates worked hard on their projects and enjoyed the experience.”

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Janice Holst
Janice Holst
Janice Holst has been both a teacher and a journalist. A former MLive reporter, she wrote features and covered local government and schools for Advance Newspapers for nearly two decades. She also was a recipe columnist and wrote features for Mature Life Style and occasional entertainment pieces for On The Town magazines. She lives in Sparta Township and is thrilled to spend some of her retirement hours writing the stories of the northern Kent County school districts. Read Janice's full bio or email Janice.

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