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By Stephen Wilson

What one wish would you make if you caught a leprechaun? That question for fifth-graders may be easier to answer than naming their favorite Irish sport or musical instrument. Bodhran, anyone?

But Paxinosa Elementary students dove into everything Irish and left with deeper understanding as part of a trip to the College and visit with students in Deborah Byrd’s Irish Writers course.

Prof. Deborah Byrd enjoys all that is happening in the class“We are studying Irish writers who struggled for political independence,” Byrd says. “During this literary renaissance these writers stoked the local political fever by drawing on the ancient Gaelic and Celtic traditions and culture. Today we are drawing upon those same traditions to help students learn about Ireland.”

The day, which was soon after St. Patrick’s Day, was the second part in a triad for the fifth-graders. It started with a field trip to watch Celtic dancers and will culminate in their own project on Ireland for their school’s cultural night.

5th grade teacher Dee Lohman speaks with her class.“We have such a grand appreciation for this partnership,” says Dee Lohman, fifth-grade teacher. “The kids don’t get these experiences often. Such positive interactions outside the sphere where they live with a chance to communicate like this with other adults are phenomenal.”

An Irish flag that was colored in by a studentToday’s program is part of the Aspirations program from Landis Center for Community Engagement. Lafayette faculty, local elementary teachers, and both Lafayette and Easton students work together through cooperatively developed classroom-oriented learning modules.

Paxinosa Elementary is one of two United Way Community Schools in Easton that help level the playing field for schools where students face more barriers to success.

Students taught students as the fifth-graders moved from station to station and learned about St. Patrick, sports, dancing, musical instruments, and even built a leprechaun trap.

A finished leprechaun trap covered in Lucky Charms cerealAs they went, they collected chocolate coins wrapped in gold and colored Irish flags.

A close up of the gold coins in a pot.Lohman introduced a Lafayette student who went through the Easton Area School District. The elementary students gasped. The college student talked about the journey through elementary, middle, and high school; how making it to a place like Lafayette was possible and how honored the college students were to shorten the line between the Easton and Lafayette communities.

A former Easton school student and current Lafayette student speaks to the kids.Even when that line spans to Ireland and back.

Categorized in: Academic News, Community, Community-Based Learning and Research, English, Featured News, Innovative Teaching and Learning, Landis Center, News and Features