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Where Dragons Come From

Where Dragons Come From

Every year, first-graders discover and explore their roots, a learning journey that culminates, in the spring, in the Heritage Festival celebration for parents, classmates, and teachers.

The celebration features homemade dishes that each student chooses, something special to her family and often representing her life story. Culturally significant decorations play a part, too, and the highlight is student presentations about family lore learned through research.

The festival has a long tradition at Kent Place, extending more than two decades. First-grade teacher Jennison Lee says it prompts the children to ask family about their background. “It’s always interesting,” she says, “because students learn at least one thing they hadn’t known.”

When a student brings that information back to class, she becomes the expert about it, so the children learn from one another. “We love to compare and contrast the things we have in common and the things that are different — fascinating information that doesn’t always come up in a classroom,” Ms. Lee says. Last year, her 13 students spoke 10 different languages at home.

“At the Heritage Festival, I learned about different religions, cultures, and the family traditions of my classmates," says first-grader Anna Obalde. "My favorite part was trying everyone’s food. The best were the chocolate chip pancakes.”

“What I always find so awesome about this age group is that different doesn’t mean ‘bad.’ There’s no negative association,” Ms. Lee says. “Different simply means I need to learn from you and you need to learn from me.”

This article is featured in the fall 2022 issue of Kent Place magazine.