ALBEMARLE, N.C. - Students of all ages are helping to make the 17th annual Albemarle Down-town Christmas event a special evening for everyone. Students from Central Elementary School, Kendall Valley Elementary School and Park Ridge Christian School have been busy making holiday ornaments to be used in the 30 businesses participating in the “Christmas Around the World” game. The art teachers in each of the three schools have included this project in their curriculum during the month of November.
“Third grade classes at Park Ridge Christian School traditionally study Christmas around the world every year,” said Kim Andrew at Park Ridge.
“They learn about special holiday foods and customs in other countries. The students learn carols in different languages. The third graders present a program for the entire school to share what they have learned.”
Some of the information Andrew said she will be sharing with the students during art classes focuses on the origin of different holiday traditions. For example: Christmas cards and caroling originated in England. The Christmas tree and the advent wreath come from Germany.
The students will also learn about celebrations in other countries.
In Mexico the 9-day Christmas parade is called “Las Pasadas.” The whole town parades behind Mary and Joseph looking for a place for the Christ Child to be born.
In Australia there is a celebration much like the 4th of July in America, with picnics at the beach and fireworks. In Holland children put out wooden shoes filled with hay and carrots for the horse Sinterklaas rides.
Emily Thompson, art teacher at Central Elemen-tary, used the “Christmas Around the World” art project to teach and reinforce a variety of skills and information.
As the kindergarten classes were making flags from other countries, Thompson worked with them on colors and shapes. They talked about the familiar flag of the United States and how the flags of other countries are alike or different from our own flag.
Some of the older students also made flags, but they created their flags in the form of a post card. The flag of a country was on one side, and on the other side they learned how to address a postcard.
Thompson combined a writing experience with this art lesson, and the students had fun writing a brief message on the post card to an imaginary friend in another country. The messages all start with an appropriate greeting, such as, “Bon Jour.” Thompson made sure the students understood no one would actually write back.
Other ornaments from Central Elementary School that will be on display in “Around the World” businesses illustrate things the students learned about the food and culture of specific countries. Look for kimonos, sushi on chopsticks, pizza and other items relating to the Albemarle Downtown “Christmas Around the World” theme.
“Around 180 students, primarily first and second graders, have been involved in the ‘Christmas Around the World’ ornament project,” said Dottie Mabry, art teacher at Kendall Valley.
“These students have focused on flags from around the world.”
Mabry used a map of the world to help the students think globally and to locate different countries. The students have learned about the significance of some of the symbols on the flags such as stars, circles and bars.
Mabry has also used this art project as an opportunity to explain to her students that the colors of all flags have significance and define the individuality of the country.
Pfeiffer University Professor of Art and Director of the Grace & Cameron West Art Gallery Josh Cross has been involved with Downtown Albemarle for several years.
Cross and his students from Pfeiffer can often be seen working with Dr. Bill Hatley and others on projects to clean up and beautify the downtown area.
When asked if some of his art students might be willing to do face painting during the downtown Christ-mas event, Cross immediately agreed to help identify volunteers. Pfeiffer stresses servant leadership, so many of the volunteers from across the campus are servant scholars.
Not only did Cross find face painters, he also put event committee members in touch with Dawn Easley, coach of the Pfeiffer Women’s Lacrosse team. Easley and her team will volunteer at every activity site Nov. 20. These young women will help in Santa’s Workshop at the Stanly County Public Library, at the Face Painting site in the old Cabarrus Bank Building, at the City Hall Annex and at the Square helping riders board the Holiday Hayride.
When asked why the lacrosse team agreed to volunteer during “Christmas Around the World,” Easley said, “Every year the lacrosse team does community service in some way. This year we wanted to focus on the Albemarle community since this is where our Pfeiffer home is. Since lacrosse is not a well known sport in this country, it was important to us that we represent ourselves as a team. So far this year we have volunteered at Stanly Manor. We will also be helping with Field Day at New London Middle School where we will be teaching lacrosse.”
Easley went on to say that, “Pfeiffer is an institution that develops servant leadership, so we build that into our athletic program. Playing college athletics takes up much of their time, so it is very easy for athletes to become contained in their own environment. When the young ladies finish their four years of lacrosse and graduate, it is important that they have become more than college athletes.
“I have had the privilege of coaching these girls the last three years and they are always eager to volunteer. Volunteering helps them develop characteristics of selflessness and leadership.”
The lacrosse team is looking forward to the Albemarle Christmas event because they think it will be a great way to be involved in the community and enjoy the holiday activities in downtown Albemarle all at the same time.
Since Pfeiffer University is participating in the “Christmas Around the World” event in so many ways, the University will provide transportation from the Pfeiffer campus to downtown Albemarle for students who want to enjoy the festivities.
In addition the Pfeiffer Alumni Association will host an Alumni Social at Home Savings Bank on the square from 6-8:30 p.m. Nov. 20.
Many different student groups will be providing entertainment during the downtown Christmas event. The First Assembly Children’s Handbell Choir will perform in front of Timeless Fotographie just off the square.
Performing at the square will be the North Stanly band students. Two groups of student musicians from Pfeiffer University will entertain at the Courthouse Square Park Colonnade.
Also performing at Court House Square Park Colonnade with the Bethel Church of God Praise Team will be a group of children who play recorders. The Choral Ensemble from Stanly Community College will perform at the Top Dollar Stage, as well as students from Melissa Kath-leen’s School of Dance.
To find out more about the entertainers, check out the RAVE section in The Stanly News & Press on Nov. 19.
Brochures listing activities, schedules, and food options are available in many downtown businesses. Information is also available online at: www.albemarledowntown.com. If you go to the Web site, scroll down and select Christmas Around the World under Upcoming Events.