Gathered at Blough Hall, students at St. Irenaeus School in Oakmont sported colorful kimonos and were learning to make origami.
Members of the Japan-America Society of Pennsylvania visited with students for a special program as part of the Catholic Schools Week festivities occurring at the school. This year, Catholic Schools Week—its theme was "Catholic Schools Raise the Standards"—was celebrated last week.
Students learned about the Japanese New Year, music, clothing, food, games, stories and religion from seven of the society's members.
Paula Corbett, second grade teacher at St. I, said it was a great way for children to learn hands on.
"You can teach them about these things from a social studies book, but to actually experience it is great," she said.
Katsuko Shellhammer, education outreach coordinator of the Japan-America Society of PA, said volunteers embrace the opportunity to teach people about the Japanese culture.
"The area is not that diverse," she said. "It's important for children to know that there's more to the world than just this area."
Volunteer Jennifer Creamer agreed. A Franklin Park resident, Creamer began learning about the Japanese culture when she visited the country at age 17. Eventually, she came back to the states and took Japanese classes in college.
"I just love it," she said. "It's nice because you see that children this age are so interested in learning about different cultures."
The society is always looking for new members. Visit www.us-japan.org/jasp.
Here's a look at some other ways that Catholic and Lutheran schools in the area celebrated:
- Students at St. John the Baptist Catholic School in Plum enjoyed a visit from Joe Wos—founder and executive director of the Toonseum in Pittsburgh—Allegheny General Hospital's LifeFlight helicopter and Pitt's Mobile Science Lab.
- Lutheran Schools Week also was observed last week. This week's theme was “Baptized for This Moment.” Redeemer Lutheran School in Oakmont celebrated with many events. Among them were a teacher versus student cone ball game, school spirit day and a chance to meet some authors.