VIS International Bread Festival celebrates diversity

Karen Harrison's fourth grade class led their peers in a German hat-making craft during the 6th annual International Bread Festival at Valley Intermediate School on May 19. (Reporter Photo / Molly Davidson)

Karen Harrison’s fourth grade class led their peers in a German hat-making craft during the 6th annual International Bread Festival at Valley Intermediate School on May 19. (Reporter Photo / Molly Davidson)

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

PELHAM—Valley Intermediate School celebrated diversity across the world and within the school’s community with their presentation of the sixth annual International Bread Festival on May 19.

The International Bread Festival aims to explore diversity through bread, something all cultures have in common, VIS fourth grade teacher Karen Harrison said.

“It helps everybody embrace everyone’s cultures,” Harrison said.

Each classroom chose a country for students to study, many of the countries representing the heritage of a student. In addition to baking break from the assigned country, the project incorporated extensive research skills using a variety of sources as students learned about the country’s culture, history and language and put together an activity for their peers and for visitors.

“It’s all in class,” Harrison said of the research. “We do some research in the computer lab and some research in the library.”

The festival opened with a ceremony featuring songs and dances from across the world presented by each grade. Groups of students then traveled from room to room, learning about countries as diverse as India, Bangladesh and Kenya and marking each off on a “passport.”

“Students spend 15 to 20 minutes in each classroom,” Harrison said. “You travel the world in two hours.”

Each year, classrooms try to choose a new country so that “in their three years, students have to potential to learn about 30 different countries,” Harrison said.

This year’s edition of the International Bread Festival was special as the fourth grade took ownership of their classroom decorations, presentations and activities.

“This is the first year it’s been student run for the fourth grade,” VIS fourth grade teacher Melissa Sadberry said. “Following Leader in Me, they’re embracing leadership roles.”

“I was their sounding board,” Harrison said of her fourth grade class, who researched Germany for the festival.

Harrison’s students worked collaboratively to decorate the room with informational posters bearing German words and fun facts, create a power point presentation, and lead their peers in a hat-making craft.

“This is something they look forward to all year,” Harrison said adding the students always “really like the bread.”