Vivid colors and delectable scents greeted visitors to the Feria Latino-Americana, or Latin American Fair, at Barnesville on April 17. This annual eighth grade event is a celebration of the many countries around the world that designate Spanish as
the primary language.
Each Spanish-speaking nation, its culture and food, is featured in bright displays adorned with flags, artifacts, maps, artwork and other items native to the country. Students wearing the traditional attire of their country also become part of the display as well as acting as “tour guides” for visitors to the fair. The displays are just one part of the assignment given to the eighth graders in this culminating event of 10 years of Spanish instruction.
“La Feria helps to integrate each student to a new culture, learn about 20 Spanish speaking countries, and improve their fluency of the language,” said Profesora Zeppos, middle school Spanish teacher. “Our goal is to graduate fluent speakers with a knowledge of not just the language but the cultures as well.”
Each student researched their chosen country, learning about the culture, geography, politics, food and other unique aspects of the nation. In Spanish, they created a written exam about their country, participated in a one-on-one oral examination with Profesora Zeppos, and composed an oral report and created a PowerPoint presentation that was shared with their classmates before the day of the fair. The oral presentation helped prepare the students for the fair as it served as the basis for their dialogue with the visitors.
“The eighth graders [were] obligated to talk only in Spanish,” said Profesora Zeppos, which is true of all Spanish classes as well, part of Barnesville’s Spanish immersion technique for teaching the language to all its students.
La Feria not only serves as a curricular project for the eighth graders, but also provides a learning experience for the students from preschool through seventh grade. Each student in preschool through third grade received a map of the 20 Spanish-speaking countries. As they traveled through the displays, they collected a flag sticker from each country to show that they visited each booth. They were encouraged to practice their Spanish by asking the eighth graders questions about the country or asking to taste the delicious fare.
Students in fourth through seventh grade were provided with a series of questions, all in Spanish. The questions required them to find answers about the different countries by visiting the booths and asking for assistance from the eighth graders. The answers to their questions will then serve as notes for an open-book quiz for the fifth through seventh graders.
Feria Latino-Americana is an eighth grade Signature Curriculum Event and is held every year in April.