Students Learn Lesson In Diversity At Early Age

St. Alphonsus second graders are dancing a jig and wearing the green this year. It's not all just for fun either; they're learning all about Ireland.

"You get to learn about other people and what they do in another country," second grader Jeffrey Farrington said.

This Ocean Springs version of Ireland offers a chance to kiss the blarney stone or hit the links for a bit of Irish golf. But the reason for studying other countries goes beyond the fun of competing in a potato race.

"The purpose is for us to learn about a new culture," second grader Sherri Sentell said. "We to it to help promote peace and just an understanding of other people."

Across the coast, and around the world, a far different music and mood filled the presentation hall at St. John Elementary. First graders treated their parents to a formal Japanese tea -- no shoes allowed. The youngsters not only served the tea, they demonstrated what they've learned about the land of the rising sun.

Students helped create their own kimonos. They can even count to 10 in Japanese. Teachers say understanding such a lesson at this early age, may help these children better understand and respect different cultures as they grow up.

Teachers at these schools say letting first and second graders learn about other countries and cultures with fun activities is a good way to introduce them to social studies.