Strength through culture
"When people learn, they do so within the context of their culture, heritage and language," says Education, Minister Charles Dent

by Glen Korstrom
Northern News Services

NNSL (Apr 01/98) - Education Week is under way, with city schools celebrating strength through culture.

St. Patrick high school will stretch the week out to all of April, with cafeteria food more versatile than ever.

"There will be different cultural foods for lunch," said principal Kern Von Hagen. "We've got 22 nationalities in this school, not including the indigenous peoples."

Diverse world-beat music will play on the school's lunch time radio station.

And April 3 through 19, a troupe of 17 St. Patrick students will head to Jamaica to teach reading skills, the elderly and get involved with orphanages, farms and health-care clinics.

Similar culturally-focused events will happen at St. Patrick with respect to food and music.

They have eight exchange students from Australia, Belgium, Norway, Peru, Denmark, Italy, Brazil, Colombia.

"It's unbelievable what that kind of culture does to our school as well," said Sir John Franklin high school principal Anne-Mieke Cameron.

Some Sir John students recently returned from a trip to Italy and Greece, while another group saw B.C.'s west coast and its Haida culture.

"There are so many ways culture impacts in this school, because we already live in a very varied cultural atmosphere here," she said.

Community members will also have a chance to shadow teachers throughout their day to better understand what the day of a teacher is like.

"Any time people understand how schools work and what actually happens within the school setting, the students benefit in the long run."

Cameron will present a slide show called "Passing the Drum" at a Strength from Culture symposium April 2.

The show celebrates education across the North, she said. It notes the need to pass learning from one generation to the next.

"When people learn, they do so within the context of their culture, heritage and language," said Education, Minister Charles Dent.

"The link between culture and success in school and the workplace is so strong."

One of the goals of the two-day symposium, which starts today, is to determine how Education, Culture and Employment can support the NWT's teaching and learning centres to develop materials promoting aboriginal language and culture in schools.

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