MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

November 26, 2013

Older students broaden young ones’ horizons


— Two different groups of teens recently gave their time to broaden younger students’ experience.

Muskogee High School Advanced Placement Spanish students read to Irving Elementary first- and second-graders. They read books in Spanish, then translated each phrase in English.

Young kids identify with older students and look up to them at the same time. This makes the high school students effective mentors.

“I never got to read to kids before,” said MHS junior Jose Nava. “The kids really looked up to me. I was one of them once.”

First-grade teacher Aprel Paris said her students particularly enjoyed hearing the stories in two languages. She said six of her 21 pupils speak Spanish as their first language.

We trust the experience helped the students understand classmates of other cultures better.

The HOPE club dance group from Sequoyah High School taught Whittier Elementary School students something about Native American culture recently. The group’s performance is part of their celebration of Native American Heritage month.

The HOPE club is driven by one purpose, Honoring Our People’s Existence.

The group honors their heritage by passing on their cultural knowledge to a younger generation.

“Elementary students are still forming opinions, attitudes and beliefs,” said Tonya Soap, co-sponsor. “We are helping to show an accurate portrayal and broaden the understanding of Native Americans.”

The group represents a variety of tribes and traditions through song and dance.

Every Whittier student had a chance to participate with the HOPE group, personally experiencing a tribal dance.

Older students sharing their culture is a powerful thing. It can build bridges of understanding between people, and is especially effective in broadening the horizons of the young.

Kudos to both groups of teens.