St. Mary’s Catholic School in Blind River hosted a Heritage Fair on Thursday May 9th 2019 in the school gymnasium. The project was funded through the Speak Up initiative receiving funds granted by the board through the Ministry of Education.
Two family planning sessions in April and early May allowed for students and families to come together and plan their displays. All materials were provided (display boards, decorative materials, access to printers/technology) – even food, refreshments and transportation for those who requested it.
“It was amazing to see the project come together. During the first planning session only four families came out. Then the word spread and eleven families came to the second planning session, with some families asking for materials to work on their board at home. Momentum began to build with approximately one hundred people visiting the fair. From a student population of 152 displays from fifty families were highlighted,” said Grade 7/8 teacher Nadia Zanatta.
Susan Kovacs-Weigel, a Red Seal chef by trade, was on-site for the fair. She created five ethnic dishes with the help of some Grade 5, 6, and 7 students who learned about ‘behind the scenes’ kitchen operations. Eighteen ethnic dishes portioned as appetizer sized were available for all to try. Some foods included: vegetarian masala, goulash, fried plantain, stew, corn soup, bannock, and thai rice noodles.
There was also a reading corner with books about different places around the world, as well as an activity centre with mazes of the world and colouring pages of famous heritage sites.
“The Heritage Fair was an amazing opportunity to showcase the diversity within our school. It was so nice to be involved in bringing students, staff, parents, grandparents and community members together to celebrate,” said Grade 2/3 teacher, Maranda Mathias.
“The Heritage Fair unified my class in numerous ways. Many of my students discovered they had the same origins as many of their peers. It was amazing to share in their excitement as they started working together and sharing resources and stories with one another. Our class became rich in discussion and the excitement was contagious. It was an unforgettable experience,” said Grade 5/6 teacher, Tammy Lemieux.
Much learning was involved prior to and during the fair and students felt very proud of who they were. Each display was unique and it was rewarding to read about each family’s heritage. As a first time event the St. Mary’s Catholic School Heritage Fair was resounding success.