Southgate students walk around the world in learning experience

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 28, 2000

At Southgate Elementary School, walkathons aren’t just about collecting pledges and going a certain distance.

Thursday, September 28, 2000

At Southgate Elementary School, walkathons aren’t just about collecting pledges and going a certain distance. They’re also about learning.

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Last year the Southgate students walked through the 20th century, right as it was ending. This year the students got to take a walk around the globe, each armed with a green passport to be stamped at each new destination and a Southgate World Traveler water bottle from Hy-Vee Food Store.

The young students visited 10 countries, courtesy of the Southgate Parent Teacher Conference, which sponsored the walk and the fund-raiser. In addition, Lisa Sander’s Austin High School world history class spent the day at Southgate telling the younger students about their particular country as they traversed the globe.

Juniors Megan Schmidt, Brittany Bertilson and Putt Koubandonh had a presentation on Laos. For their presentation, the trio did research, but they had an added advantage because of Koubandonh, whose parents come from Laos. Koubandonh herself was born in Thailand, but she’s hoping she can visit Laos and her remaining family there before she graduates from high school.

Koubandonh wasn’t the only student Tuesday whose ethnic background made her tales of a faraway country a little easier to believe. Luis Valle told the elementary students about Mexico, a place he’s been to twice and the country where his parents were born.

Valle was wearing the clothes that the people of northern Mexico might wear today as he described ancient rituals and more modern celebrations to Deda Ray Graber’s fifth-grade class. He got some smiles when he told them how the winners of a long-ago game would have been rewarded – by death – the losers killed the winners so they "could be closer to their gods.

"You might not want to win that game," the junior said.

PTC President Kim Jacobson said the walkathon is the group’s major fund-raiser, and a popular one with parents.

"They prefer this to selling candy or something like that," Jacobson said. "And the little kids love it."

Jacobson said the walkathon had raised nearly $10,000 for the organization. The money will go toward things like transportation for school trips, TVs and VCRs for the classrooms and playground equipment.

"All the extras that take place go through the PTC – we need that more and more these days," she said.

Fourth-grade teacher Bill Kinney thinks the walkathon is great, for the reason that education plays such a big part in the annual event.

"The high school kids all do such a wonderful job, and the kids idolize them to begin with," Kinney said. "They also present at a level the kids can understand – my students gain a lot of knowledge from this."

As the kids hurry from one nation station to the next, it’s obvious they think the walkathon is great, regardless of its "educational base." Mr. Kinney’s fourth-graders all are ready to move to Germany, their favorite country so far.

Why Germany? Because students get candy on the first day of school.