Mcdonald students learn spirit of New Orleans
email@example.com Centennial School District McDonald Elementary School fifthgraders celebrated Mardi Gras with some southern cooking and music. Teacher Joe Pisacano introduced students to food traditionally served in New Orleans, such as beignets, and famous jazz musicians, like Louis Armstrong, during his 12th annual Books for Beignets Mardi Gras class activity Feb. 12.
“For me it’s not about using money to solve someone’s problem,” Pisacano said. “It’s about teaching children compassion and to help others no matter what they can give. It’s being a responsible person.”
Students participated in workshops to learn about jazz music and musicians; traditional jazz instruments; and decorative Mardi Gras masks. One of the main highlights for students is making their own beignets. At this station, students donate change to help buy books for a school ravaged by a natural disaster. Pisacano said usually the books go to a school in New Orleans that is still recovering from Hurricane Katrina, but this year the books will go to a school in Seaside Heights, N. J.
“We’re doing it a little more local,” Pisacano said. “With Hurricane Sandy, I thought it would be a little more appropriate to send [the books] to a school there.”
He said students can better understand the need to help an elementary school in Seaside Heights because their own lives were also effected by Hurricane Sandy, although not as extreme.
“They, too, were effected by the hurricane,” Pisacano said. “I thing they might take it to heart more this year.”
Pisacano said he hopes to donate approximately 40 books to the unde- termined elementary school. However, he just hopes to inspire a caring and giving spirit in his students by having them donate their change.
“Children are naturally compassionate. I think if you don’t exercise that compassion, you don’t [follow it as an adult],” Pisacano said. “By allowing children to help others makes them a better person.”
Once students have made their beignets, Pisacano fries the beignets in class and coats them in powdered sugar. Students then get to try their homemade New Orleans classic pastry.
“It’s kind of feels like we’re part of the [New Orleans Mardi Gras celebrations],” fifth-grade student Chloe Vella said. She looked forward to making her own beignets. “It’s hands-on [learning].”
“It’s a more fun experience when we’re doing many things,” fifth-grader Courtney Chapman said. She has noticed that participating in hands-on workshops in Pisacano’s class has helped her learn better. Vella agreed with her statement.
“It’s multi-disciplinary. It appeals to all students,” Pisacano said. “It gives them a lifelong memory.”
Danny Sheller models his Mardi Gras mask.
Joshua Tapia, left, and Christian Parra string beads for a Mardi Gras necklace.