On Thursday morning, families, teachers and students gathered in the primary gym for the third grade World’s Fair! This annual event is the culmination of each student’s in-depth research on the life journey of an American immigrant in the 1920’s. The basketball court was transformed by beautiful poster-board presentations, complete with illustrations and facts about each country– and a tempting spread of food from each culture to be shared. Third graders dedicated their summers to this research and continued working though the first few months of school to deepen their understanding of their assigned country, as well as their immigrant stories. Many migrated in hopes of better living conditions, a fair workplace, and to join family members already settled in America.

During the presentation of their trunks, students explained what they carried for their journey to America. Some brought comfort items like a teddy bear from New Zealand or pictures of relatives who had stayed behind. Others carried utilitarian items like blankets and hats for warmth.

A select group shared their acrostic poems about the Statue of Liberty, the welcoming statue immigrants would see if they entered the United States through Ellis Island, and a symbol for freedom and a fresh start. The imposing stature of Lady Liberty was conveyed clearly in one student’s poem, in which the “B” in Liberty stood for “B, big feet. size 879.”

While the stories of Ellis Island were mostly those of uplifting arrival, those of Angel Island displayed a more complicated past, in which arriving immigrants were interrogated and detained. DCD third graders, through the careful guidance of their teachers, confronted this complex history of American immigration with seriousness and sympathy.

DCD’s third grade World’s Fair project offers a glimpse into the experience of another time and place, helping students to understand perspectives beyond their own. Belonging is a value that DCD has always cherished, recognizing the layering of culture like a quilt, with each patch of experience contributing to the whole of the DCD community, much like the United States as we know it today. 

Thank you to Mrs. Hultgren and Mrs. Mills for honoring immigrant stories and for an amazing World’s Fair!