North Whidbey Middle School hosts student culture fair

Eighth-graders at North Whidbey Middle School got the chance to trace the roots in their family trees.

Eighth-graders at North Whidbey Middle School got the chance to trace the roots in their family trees.

Then they put the trees on display, roots and all.

Eighth-grade teachers asked their students to complete a culture project on a part of their families’ history and culture, including a research paper, an interview with a family member and a visual presentation to display for friends and family Wednesday night.

“They pick something from their culture, so a personal part of their background,” said Lindsay Brockett, one of the eighth-grade teachers. “It’s really exciting, and they love it. They really get into it, and they love talking about their background and what they’re passionate about.”

“It reminds us of where we came from, who we are, what makes us, us,” Olivia Rotter said.

Rotter said her ancestors immigrated from Ireland. Now, five generations later, her Irish heritage is still a large part of her family’s life.

“I never really noticed it till I got into my project,” she said. “I was looking around the house for things that I could do for my project, and I see my dad wearing one of those Irish golf hats, and I’m looking around in our basement and we have tapestries and special knots everywhere.

“It’s all over the house, and I never recognized it.”

Not every student displayed the culture of the country their ancestors were from; some took a different approach,

Jeremy Salter presented the history of cooking through the generations in his family.

“It’s just been in my family for over 100 years,” he said.

His display consisted not only of homemade lasagna handed out to passersby, but also the original recipe from 1954, a 60-year-old roasting pan and more.

There were pictures of him making the lasagna and, of course, his dog watching the process.

He said the project gave him the opportunity to share a side of his family’s culture.

“It helps show a lot of who I am and what I usually do around the house,” Salter said. “Overall, I feel amazing with all the work that I’ve done in the past month.”

McKenna Ryals presented her art. Coming from a “long line of artists,” Ryals loves art and enjoyed showing it.

She said that a lot of her family paints, but she prefers a different medium: colored-pencil drawings. She also creates animations, which was a part of her presentation.

“I love everything about art,” Ryals said. “It’s beautiful; it’s a way to get your emotions out. It’s awesome.”

For her, projects like this are important because it gives students “a chance to be creative.”

“It just lets them dig into their past and everything, so they get to learn a little more about their family,” Ryals said, “sometimes stuff that they never actually knew.”

Other projects included sports, food, military heritage, horses and more.

“I think it connects them to their background,” Brockett said, “and a lot of these people find out about stuff in their family that they’ve never known before, and that’s what’s really exciting.”