The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

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March 3, 2013

Gifted and Talented Program students learn hands-on about Japanese people

ASHTABULA — Nine-year-old Caleb Selman concentrated real hard as he took the final strokes of a paint brush.

“It’s Chewbacca,” he said. “It’s a Chewbacca Kokeshi doll.”

The dozen or so students, members of the grades 3-6 Gifted and Talented Program at the Ashtabula Area City Schools District, came to the Ashtabula Arts Center Tuesday to participate in a variety of hands-on learning activities designed by Meeghan Humphrey, visual arts coordinator at the Arts Center. She was assisted by Gifted and Talented teacher, Theresa Clutter, Rosemary Timonere, gifted coordinator for the school district, Joyce Beitel, Japanese language teacher at Lakeside High School, and 11 upper-level Japanese language students from LHS.

Gifted and Talented students are pulled from the district’s elementary buildings and spend one day a week in enrichment classes. Timonere says the program is offered in grades 3 through 6. Students are selected on cognitive ability, teacher recommendation, creativity and high scores on achievement tests.

During the day, students explore subjects in much greater depth than can be covered in a regular classroom. Higher level thinking and creativity are emphasized.

“We do a lot of hands-on projects,” Timonere said.

When it came to the study of Japan, the students learned about geography, history, literature, culture and art as they explored the nation.

The high school students have helped them learn their name in Japanese, numbers, foods, colors and simple introductions, Clutter said.

Tuesday’s visit to the Arts Center gave the students a sample of the culture as Humphrey hosted a tea ceremony. Before explaining the tradition to them and sharing stories about authentic articles used in the ceremony, she introduced the students to a variety of Japanese artistic traditions.

Using rubber fish and paint, Humphrey showed them how to make a fish print on a T-shirt.

“They get a little art, a little culture,” Timonere said.

Students learned how to make paper lanterns, floating lanterns, dolls and art projects with cords and yarn.

“It’s interesting to learn how to make the paper lanterns,” said Zoey Campbell, a junior at LHS, who likes learning about Japan. “I like working with the children, too. I think it’s something they will never forget.”

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