The oil in the Hanukkah lamp and the eight days of lighting the menorah; the seven values of African American family life revered during Kwanzaa; the time of worship and family ties that signifies Ramadan; the King’s Bread and finding the figure of the baby Jesus on Three Kings Day; the five days of festivities that light up Hindu homes for Diwali; and painting everything red in celebration of the Chinese New Year are just a sampling of hands on learning experiences had by Park Maitland students as they learned about customs and traditions of other cultures. We believe that students today more than ever need to have an appreciation, understanding and relationship with people and cultures from around the world. We are fortunate to have a diverse student body at Park Maitland School. We recently had a day-long celebration of Holidays around the World as students “traveled” from country to country to learn about how holidays are celebrated. Each year, we have a “festival of Nations” event where students travel “internationally and Learn history and facts from each nation. Greek Festival, India Day, States Travel Day, Native American Day are other grade level or school wide events that allow our students to learn about other nationalities, traditions and cultures.
When competition in just about every arena is greater than it ever was, when more and more wars and conflicts tear families and countries apart, when globalization makes this world seem smaller – and seemingly more alike we want students to value each and every human being, regardless of gender, age, color, nationality, disability or religion. This can only be done through exposure and education where everyone’s uniqueness is treasured and valued. Imagine the same about different groups of people who learn about one another’s traditions, culture and abilities as enriching everyone’s lives.
Isn’t it great that, even in a small place like Park Maitland School, we have friends who can teach us so much about other people in the world and other customs and celebrations that people enjoy?
At a private school such as ours, we are most fortunate that we can introduce our students to our country’s rich cultural heritage. Our motive is respect for all; if children are led to understand and respect their friends and their families’ customs, then we have succeeded in making this a better world.
December 4th marks the birthday of the school’s founder, Ms. Nell Cohen, and typically marks the celebration of Founder’s Day at Park Maitland School. Founder’s Day has become an annual tradition wherein students and staff gather at an assembly to remember the school’s origin and it’s wonderful, innovative originator. Ms. Cohen’s legacy is a treasure that is preserved by her three daughters; Mary Margaret Bowen, Carolyn Fritch, and Elisabeth Kleppin, and is continued by the newest generation of students each year.
Bill and Nell Cohen with their three daughters Mary Margaret Bowen, Carolyn Fritch, and Liz Kleppin and their families.
This year marks the school’s 45th year and, combined with the 2012-2013 school year theme of “Gratitude,” was celebrated in a unique way as Park Maitland alums who currently have children enrolled returned to show their gratitude. Nearly 40 returning graduates and their children took the stage eager to share their favorite memories of field trips, exemplary teachers, life-long friendships, and even, their most memorable trips to the office. They attributed their own elementary experience, their early love of learning, and character building as reasons to return to Park Maitland years later as the parents of a new generation of “Parkie’s.” Tears of appreciation filled the eyes of many who could not deny being touched by such sweet sentiments.
It is easy to say that an education at Park Maitland is far more than textbooks and academics; it’s a foundation of character, a comradery, and a family tradition for those who lead the school and certainly for those who’ve attended.