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Classroom Happenings: Inspired Learning

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JK students learn about a festive Korean tradition
Steward parents are an integral part of the School community. They add extra Spartan spirit to the campus; help with special events and fundraising; and sometimes even serve as guest speakers in the classroom. 

In September, Si Eun Park (mother of Nari Park Harris ’37 and Yuna Park Harris ’32) was invited to visit the junior kindergarten classroom to talk about the traditions surrounding a Korean Thanksgiving (Chuseok). Ms. Park arrived wearing a traditional Korean hanbok: a high-waisted wraparound skirt (chima) paired with a blouse (jeogori), both made of shimmering white and red silk and embellished with embroidery. 

“What do we do at Thanksgiving?” she asked. “We celebrate!” Ms. Park went on to talk about some of the Chuseok traditions that her ancestors passed down to her family, and she showed the students two children’s Chuseok outfits she’d brought along. 

Ms. Park said that, as with American Thanksgiving celebrations, special foods are a big part of the Chuseok holiday. Smiling broadly, she said, “Dumplings; colorful rice cakes made with honey, sugar, and sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds or chestnuts; savory, sticky noodles; pancakes topped with meat or vegetables; and deep-fried honey cookies … yummy!” She promised the students that soon they’d be sampling some delicious Korean food that she had prepared just for them. 

No Chuseok is complete without dancing, and the junior kindergarteners were thrilled when Ms. Park exclaimed, “It’s dance time!” With festive Korean music filling the room, the 26 junior kindergarteners held hands and gathered in a large circle, and Ms. Park led them through a series of figure-eight twists and turns. As the students cheered and laughed, she announced several times, “Okay! Let’s go in the other direction!”

Following the dance party, students sat at their tiny JK tables to color a Chuseok “fun sheet,” which Yuna had created just for the occasion. Afterward, they snacked on the special foods that Ms. Park had brought along.

Junior Kindergarten Teachers Katy Koppanyi and Robbin Hataway and JK Aide Amy Harris are grateful to Ms. Park for sharing her time and talent with their students.

“The children were captivated by Ms. Park’s enthusiasm, and they loved learning about Korean Thanksgiving traditions,” said Ms. Koppanyi. “We always encourage our students to make meaningful connections with the world beyond Steward, and this was a fun way for our youngest Spartans to engage in hands-on, inspired learning.” 


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