photo by Paul Goyette

Local dancer and artist Vickie Cassanova sat in the rocking chair at the front of
the classroom, the students intensely focused on the story she was reading to them.
Like other stories Ms. Vickie shared with the students over the past few weeks, this
story about an Amish girl in Pennsylvania allowed the kids to “visit” another culture.

Via OPEF’s Art Start program, the kids in Ms. Louthan’s 2nd grade at Beye “travelled”
with Ms. Vickie from Africa to the Caribbean and around America. Along the way, she
integrated music, dance, art, and clothing into their discussions about how different
cultures express their beliefs and their feelings.

Oliver K. said, “I never knew these names and I never knew these places existed.” His
classmate Louis D. added, “I only knew about certain places and I really would like to
learn about more and this is a good chance to get to do that.” Charlotte N. agreed that
it is “fun to ‘travel’ to different states and countries.”

Students learned about country dancing, the blues, and limbo dancing among others.
They visited the District 97 Multicultural Center at Julian, and showcased what they
learned with costumes, art, music, and dances in a performance on November 18,

Make sure to check out photos from the event by Oak Park photographer Paul Goyette.