High Schoolers Go Back to Kindergarten

By BELA KIRPALANI

Ms. Vardhan’s Public Speaking class visited Jackson Elementary School to read children’s books to Ms. Pereira’s kindergarten class. The Public Speaking students were very excited to give back to the elementary school that some of them attended. It was a rewarding experience for both classes.

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Senior Ingrid A. helps her kindergarten buddies complete worksheets related to their books.

The Public Speaking Class spent weeks getting ready.  When asked about the preparation required for this field trip, Senior Maria K. said, “We actually had to do a presentation in class and we recorded ourselves. Then, the class gave us feedback to see how we can perfect it for the kindergarten
class. I practiced for my mom too, and she said it was great.” Senior Ingrid A. agreed, “I chose to read ‘Pete the Cat’ by Eric Litwin because it’s one of my favorites. I practiced with friends in the library, even though some of them kept on making jokes. I practiced by myself in my room in front of my mirror, making faces and different voices so the kids would want to interact with me.”

Although it was the first time Ms. Vardhan conducted this field trip, it turned out to be an enormous success. “I thought it was a great idea and I really wanted my kids to not just use some isolated exercise in our own classroom, but actually practice their public speaking skills in front of a live audience. And what better audience than other members of the Jericho community and specifically kids who are starting to learn how to read?” she said.  Although the Public Speaking Class is a one-semester course, Ms. Vardhan wants to continue with this field trip. She said, “I know for many students it was a very nostalgic experience to go back to Jackson, and I will definitely try to continue this field trip next semester.”

ELA Curriculum Associate Dr. Salzman thoroughly enjoyed watching the high school students and kindergartners read to each other. He said, “The kindergarten students were so inspired by their high school peers and their love of reading. The collaboration between mixed age groups of students is a motivating force for all learners.  As life-long readers, our Jericho high school students are great role models for our younger students.”

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Senior Maria K. said, “I was very impressed by how smart my buddies were.”

The seniors and kindergartners both had lots of fun that day. Senior Corey W. said, “It went really well. I chose ‘I Can Read with My Eyes Shut’ by Dr. Seuss. They hadn’t read it before, but really liked it. They made connections, and they asked how you could read with your eyes closed. They laughed about the book and liked the illustrations.”

Ms. Vardhan enjoyed how well her students interacted with the kindergarten students. She said, “It was very rewarding to see all my public speaking students develop such a natural rapport with their buddies, and incredibly heartwarming to see these teenagers embracing these young kids at the end.”

The field trip was also a very helpful life experience for some seniors. Ms. Vardhan found that by watching her students read to the kindergartners, she felt that some students looked like natural teachers. Maria K. said, “I want to be a kindergarten teacher when I grow up, so it made me really happy and made me more confident in my decision.” Ingrid A. said, “I was a little nervous at first because I didn’t know how they would react, but afterwards I felt settled down and calm. They were a little shy so I tried to make them talk and be comfortable. I really had a good time with my buddies.”

The seniors left a lasting impression on the kindergarten class, and when it was time to go, some were crying and hugging their seniors tightly. Senior Corey W. said, “When I left, they remembered my name and were hugging me. They asked, ‘Are you going to come back?'” Maria K. added, “They weren’t shy, and it was just an awesome experience overall. They gave me a giant hug when it was all over and it made me feel very happy inside.”

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