Children learn culture through dance

Paula Davies knows that teaching children how to count in Spanish will not change the world. But it's a step.

"I'm trying to bring an understanding of different cultures so people get along better in the world," Davies said. "This is one way to interest the kids in people who are different than them."

A second-grade teacher at Fritsch Elementary, Davies teaches a Spanish class after school to students from kindergarten to fifth grade.

On Thursday, one of Davies' students and her three friends demonstrated a traditional Mexican dance to the Spanish students.

Monica Chavez, 7, learned the dance from her mother and the rest just fell together.

"I told Triana and Triana told Casey and Shannon," Monica reported.

The foursome spent about two weeks rehearsing before performing for Davies' class.

"It's fun and it's really interesting," said Kacie Collier, 12.

Monica's mother, also named Monica Chavez, coordinated the performance.

"Vinimos para mostrar un baile mexicano a los ninos que estn aprendiendo la clase de espanol (We came to show a Mexican dance to the children who are taking the Spanish class)," Chavez said. "Para que aprendan lo que es la cultura mexicana (So they can learn the Mexican culture)."

Melissa James, 7, enjoyed the performance.

"I liked it," she said. "One, because my friend, Monica is in it. Two, because I liked the dancing."

Davies said the response to holding a Spanish class was overwhelming.

She sent the information home with students on a Friday and by Monday afternoon, she had more than 60 students sign up. The class has been divided into two sections to accommodate all the interested students.

Nicole Updegrove, 7, wanted to be able to communicate with a classmate.

"I didn't know Spanish," Nicole said. "One of my friends in my class speaks Spanish and I want to talk to her."

Jeffrey Davies, 8, struggles to remember the vocabulary words he's learned in class.

"It's pretty hard," he said.

But Jeffrey is anticipating positive results in the future.

"Maybe when I'm older I can communicate with others who know Spanish," he said.


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