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McDonald Green students learn cultural diversity

Laura Caskey
For The Lancaster News
On Friday, May 4, students of McDonald Elementary School were treated to a morning of music, food and learning.
The school hosted its first Cultural Diversity Day. English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teacher Veronica Raffin and the diversity committee – Shandra Hall, LaDonna Smith, Regina Hagwood, Lauren Taylor, Chelle Chambers, Donna Roberts, Dana Kirk and Tracy Thompson – hosted the event to promote the appreciation of diversity in Lancaster County.
Twelve countries and cultures were represented and exposed the students to diversity by displaying newspapers, currency and other materials from the respective cultures.
Fourth-grader Taylor Wade enjoyed learning about “poison dart frogs from Brazil and the talking drum from Africa.”
Principal Michelle Crosby and event participant Fei Chun Hsiao credited Raffin for the students’ enthusiasm for cultural diversity.
Third-grade teacher Greta Hough agreed.
“Ms. Raffin has done a great job on today’s diversity day and with helping students and teachers integrate cultural diversity in the classroom,” Hough said.
Raffin’s effort to teach cultural diversity has not gone without notice.
In an assembly in the auditorium, amidst the music of a local mariachi band, Garrett Tomilson from Visiting International Faculty (VIF) International Education presented Raffin with the VIF International Educator of the Year award.
Raffin was chosen for the award from a group of about 700 teachers from South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Virginia. Raffin received a crystal plaque, certificate and a check for $300.
McDonald Green Elementary School media center received a gift basket with international music, literature and an iPod Touch.
The diversity committee wants to make Cultural Diversity Day an annual event. They plan to keep students informed about diversity throughout the year through celebrations such as Black History and Spanish Heritage months during the next school year.
Raffin, a native of Argentina, has organized various events throughout the school year to familiarize students with different cultures and led demonstration workshops for the teachers.
“The students are really excited now about cultural diversity and are becoming more aware of the cultures around them, especially those present in Lancaster County,” Raffin said.