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Cornelius school uses 'Amazing Race' to impart global lessons

Forest Hills Lutheran Christian School brings other cultures into the mix


NEWS-TIMES PHOTOS: STEPHANIE HAUGEN - Forest Hills Lutheran Christian School students learned what it may have been like to paint the Sistine Chapel when they drew under their tables in their classrooms last week. Cornelius students painted the Sistine Chapel, built the Leaning Tower of Pisa, drummed in Kenya and danced in Russia last week without ever leaving the rural western Washington County town.

That’s because Forest Hills Lutheran Christian School Principal Mike Schiemann designed an “Amazing Race” day for students and staff to celebrate National Lutheran Schools Week.

“I just love ‘The Amazing Race’ television show,” Schiemann said. “The world is becoming so global, the kids really need to experience different cultures.”

Schiemann created a plan to set up a few stations around the school for nine different countries — Japan, Canada, Kenya, Brazil, Ireland, Russia, Greece, Italy and Australia — to help students learn about other nations through fun activities. Kindergarteners through eighth-graders started out at one station and completed activities for clues that would lead them to their next destination.

The day attracted about 40 parent volunteers, as well as school alumni who wanted to help out.

“The kids are having a great time and they’re really getting to learn stuff they wouldn’t normally on a school day,” said Stacey Buck, a member of Forest Hills’ school board. “A lot of alumni have said, ‘I wish we would’ve done this when I was here.’”

The students listened to sounds of animals native to Kenya, planned Greek menus, made igloos out of sugar cubes, crafted the Parthenon out of clay, painted their own Blarney Stones (the Irish flag painted onto stones) and sorted Lucky Charms, using the colors to make a rainbow. To give kids a taste of Japanese art and culture, third-grade teacher Dr. Linda Hirsch, who lived in Japan once, taught the students how to make oragami cranes. Briana Millett (left) and Grace Stramel (right) enjoyed the activity.

“I think it’s fun and a good team experience,” said Macy Belusko, a seventh-grader who just finished learning the Canadian national anthem as part of the Amazing Race day.

Eighth-grader Oliver Rhodes said he enjoyed working with kids in different grades the most, talking and sharing ideas.

“I like how you can learn something from it even if you don’t do it perfectly,” said Briana Millett, referring to crafting origami cranes in the classroom that featured Japanese culture, where students were also drawing the country’s flag. Students built their own Leaning Towers of Pisa out of pasta when they visited Italy.

“The kids are really excited and engaged about their learning,” said third-grade teacher Dr. Linda Hirsch, who lived in Japan at one time and led the Japanese-related activities.

Students practiced Kenyan drumming patterns.

Students sorted the marshmallows out of Lucky Charms cereal and used the different colors to craft a rainbow in the Ireland classroom.

While in the Canada classroom, students worked together to build igloos out of sugar cubes and learned the Canadian National Anthem.

Students painted their own Blarney Stones -- rocks painted and glittered with the Irish flag.