• Eastern sophomore Gracie Sleeman helps Ada Elementary student Carolina Yeung make a kite
  • Vanessa Bohnet, left, and Bryn Sapp work on kites at Ada Elementary as part of a project with two schools in Haiti

Simultaneous Kite-Making Launches Goodwill Across Oceans

by Steve Vedder  

Homemade kites connected elementary students nearly 2,000 miles apart as part of what they dubbed "One World, One Sky."

Students from Forest Hills Central, Eastern and Northern high schools spent time at Ada Elementary helping construct kites, at the same time the activity was happening at Institute Guerrier and Makochon School in Haiti. While they were at it, the older Forest Hills students also helped the younger ones learn a little French.

Ada Elementary teacher Penny Beatty shows off a kite made by students"It's a way to connect in a deeper way with shared experiences," said Ada Elementary teacher Penny Beatty, who visited Haiti three years ago and kicked off a relationship between that country and the district.

Ada Elementary student Mara Walsh cuts out pieces to make a kiteStudents have since developed a bond that includes exchanging letters and poetry.

Beatty said making and flying kites, or "monte kap" in Creole, is a popular tradition in Haiti. Children in the small, impoverished country south of Cuba, where storms often destroy homes, schools, crops and take lives, make kites out of bits of plastic, string and sticks.

Beatty estimates students made about 100 kites in one day, a figure she expects to grow in future years.

"They researched it, wrote about it and they're excited about doing this," she said. "It started a little slow because it was something new, but we have big hopes as we go on."

Ada Elementary principal Jo Ellen Anderson liked to see students from multiple district buildings collaborating.

"When you walk around and see children of all ages working toward one goal, you can't beat that," she said. "It's so positive."

Submitted on: April 20th 2017

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