North Whidbey Middle School eighth-graders offer a glimpse of their culture

North Whidbey Middle School eighth-graders shared a little bit of themselves Wednesday night.

Dozens of middle schoolers crammed into the gym Wednesday for the second-annual Culture Night.

Their presentations highlighting everything from their ancestry to a favorite activity and how that affects their family.

“The students spent a month researching something that has to do with their culture and heritage,” language arts teacher Lindsay Brockett said. She coordinated the culture fare along with fellow language arts teacher Kelly Spence.

Parents of the eighth-graders attended the culture night. They perused the presentations, sampled food, watched students dance and play instruments during the hour-long event. They also questioned students on aspects of their projects.

Eighth-grader Nialani Sisson focused on her Philippine heritage. Her mom and dad are from the Philippines. She interviewed her grandmother about her experiences as a child. She also tapped her for recipes to prepare lumpias and pandit, which is a noodle dish, that parents enjoyed while questioning Sisson about her heritage.

Fellow eighth-grader Tita Johnson focused on her Hawaiian heritage. She said she is half Hawaiian and half Marshalese (Marshall Islands). She focused on Hawaii because she was less familiar with that part of her heritage.

Her presentation included information about Hawaii’s state flower and its importance to the state’s culture and she danced.

While some students focused on their heritage, other students picked an important topic in their lives and tied it in with how it affected their families. Some of the students showed off presentations about horses, hip hop, dancing, football, Whidbey Island Naval Air Station.

Eighth-grader Shawn O’Connor said he chose jazz music, because it is something he’s enjoyed ever since hearing a concert in the fourth-grade.

“I’ve been playing jazz for a couple of years and I thought this would be a perfect time for people to learn about it,” O’Connor said.

Brockett said people choosing such topics would have to personalize it and demonstrate how it affected their family. For example, a student with a presentation about hip hop noted his grandmother enjoyed the music too.

Wednesday’s culture night marked the second year of the event. It provides a chance for students to improve their research skills in forming their presentations.

Students also improved their speaking skills through rehearsing with classmates and then with answering questions from parents attending the culture night.

“It’s been really successful with the community,” Brockett said adding the project helps preparing them for high school.

In order to graduate from high school, seniors have to give a presentation in front of a panel of local residents.


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