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Around the world in seven holidays

Kentwood — It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at Bowen Elementary — and Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Las Posadas, Chinese New Year, Diwali and Ramadan.

The hallways transformed into the inaugural Museum of Holidays Around the World to recognize and celebrate different holidays.

Principal Mary Campione and the Bowen diversity team wanted to engage students in celebrating holidays as diverse as the number of cultures and  languages spoken at the school. 

“We wanted all students to feel like their holidays were represented in our hallways, more than just the traditional American holidays like Christmas,” Campione said. 

“Our Bowen Arrows learned that no matter the place, faith or culture people come from, all holidays have many things in common. They all celebrate family, friends, sharing and love.”

Holidays Around the World 

Kindergartners learned about the Jewish holiday Hanukkah and made painted handprints to create the nine candles on a menorah. Down the hall, first-graders colored and cut out matryoshka dolls and learned how Christmas is celebrated in Russia.

First-grader Ruth Lian shared what she learned about the Russian dolls craft.

“The dolls get big, medium and small and we colored them, cut them and glued them,” Ruth explained. “They come from Russia and you keep opening them until they get smaller.”

Kindergartner Jeromy Williams learned about the Jewish holiday Hanukkah and made his painted handprints to create the nine candles on a menorah (courtesy)

Traveling to the next hallway exhibit, second-graders celebrated the seven days of Kwanzaa with woven paper mats, and third-graders displayed piñata stars for Mexico’s Las Posadas holiday. 

Students with moderate cognitive impairments taught their classmates how Christmas is celebrated in the Netherlands by displaying wooden shoe coloring pages and sharing traditional holiday food. 

Fourth-graders learned about Chinese New Year, while fifth-graders wrapped up the festivities by hanging colorful paper lanterns in honor of Diwali, India’s festival of lights.

English Language Learner teacher Alanna Wilson’s classes learned about one more holiday to celebrate their Muslim friends. According to the poster outside their classroom, the crescent moon is a special Islamic symbol, as the Muslim year follows the lunar calendar.

Though it falls during a different month every year, Ramadan begins and ends with the sighting of the crescent moon. It also marks the end of fasting and the start of Eid al-Fitr

Abigail Meh said she really liked the coloring part of the project and learned some new things about the crescent moon symbol.

“People who celebrate Ramadan don’t eat in the morning and eat when the sun goes down at night,” Abigail said.

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Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark is a reporter, covering Caledonia, Kenowa Hills, Godfrey-Lee, Grand Rapids and is a roving reporter for GRCC, Wyoming, Kentwood and Byron Center. She grew up in metro Detroit and her journalism journey brought her west to Grand Rapids via Michigan State University where she covered features and campus news for The State News. She also co-authored three 100-question guides to increase understanding and awareness of various human identities, through the MSU School of Journalism. Following graduation, she worked as a beat reporter for The Ann Arbor News - covering stories on education, community, prison arts and poetry.  Following a stint as a copywriter for a Grand Rapids area PR firm, she transitioned from communications to freelance writing and reporting for SNN.  Read Alexis' full bio

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