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A taste of India

Island School teachers Nancy Leedy and Mike Derzon take part in “Six Blind Women and the Elephant” as part of the opening ceremony for the school’s month long cultural study on India and its culture. - Brad Camp/For the Review
Island School teachers Nancy Leedy and Mike Derzon take part in “Six Blind Women and the Elephant” as part of the opening ceremony for the school’s month long cultural study on India and its culture.
— image credit: Brad Camp/For the Review

Students at The Island School are immersing themselves into the Indian culture this month.

At an opening ceremony on Wednesday, students placed a lotus flower into a reflecting pond set up in Webster Hall. The students also watched a play entitled “Six Blind Women and the Elephant,” with teachers playing the characters and parents making up the elephant. It is an adaptation of a classic Indian parable that has been used for generations by many religions to show how truth is reached and seen by different people and how our senses often misinterpret things.

The kids will get to use all of their senses as they take part in various activities over the month as part of their studies of the culture from a land that is regarded as one of the oldest civilizations on Earth.

There will be focus on the arts, such as making puppets in the form of Ganesha, one of the most popular deities worshipped in Hinduism. Students will also create floor art in Rangoli style, which is an art form consisting of colorful, intricate designs done on the floor of houses and temples to bring good luck and prosperity to the place it was done in. They will also make animal drawings in the Warli style, an ancient Indian folk art tradition that has been dated as far back as 3000 B.C.

There will be celebrations of Diwali, the festival of lights, and of Holi, a religious festival where participants celebrate with folk songs, dances, smearing colored powders on each other’s faces and throwing colored water at each other.

Teacher Betsy Carroll helps fifth grader Julia Bernard prepare for the opening ceremony. - Brad Camp/For the Review

Teacher Betsy Carroll helps fifth grader Julia Bernard prepare for the opening ceremony.

Brad Camp/For the Review

Instead of their traditional market day using school money, students will barter with each other for the items they bring to market. Students will also take part in the practice of yoga every Wednesday and Friday.

There will also be presentations from Dr. Tom Monk on Indian medicine, an exchange student from India currently attending BHS and Annie Penta, who specializes in Indian music. The Leela Kathak Dancers, a dance troupe from Seattle, will perform.

Joan Henderson, the director of marketing and development for the Island School, said the teachers chose the country for its annual monthly cultural study. They had studied India before about 10 years ago.

“It’s just so rich in culture,” she said. “With all the folklore, it’s really exciting.”

She said the highlights of their studies will be having the kids learn about the various topics and teach other students about what they have learned.

The study will wrap up March 24 with a student performance and a potluck dinner of Indian food prepared by parents.

 

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