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Eagle Crest Elementary supports Ugandan students through schoolwide effort
By Amy Bounds, Staff Writer, Times-Call
Eagle Crest Elementary's halls were filled with global food and African student art on Monday to raise money to help Ugandan students.
A new afterschool Global Kids' Club came up with the idea of a multicultural bake and snack sale to raise awareness of the school's diversity and to raise money so more girls can attend school in Uganda.
"We wanted everybody's culture to be welcomed at this school," said fifth-grader Brizleth Rodriguez.
Offerings at the sale included Irish soda bread, enchiladas, halva sesame candy, Rice Krispies "sushi," beignets, shortbread and brownies.
"Food can bring people together," said fifth-grader Zia Kissinger. "We don't want people treated differently, no matter where they come from."
Sheila Freehill, who teaches English language learners at Eagle Crest, started the club after completing a yearlong fellowship through a U.S. Department of State Fulbright program called Teachers for Global Classrooms.
"It really inspired me to bring global education more into the school," she said.
Helping run the club, which is for fourth- and fifth-graders, are high school students in the Universal High School program at Silver Creek High School.
Along with the bake sale, the club created a language and culture survey to ask parents how to make the school more culturally and linguistically accepting. Freehill said her students families speak 20 to 30 different languages.
Freehill said the global club fits in well with the school's overall leadership focus, which has a goal of teaching students "to use the skills of creating, communicating and inspiring to make the world a better place."
As part of the focus, students at each grade level participate in learning service projects.
Eagle Crest since 2010 also has worked with the Mwebaza Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes cross-cultural exchange between schools in Colorado and Africa.
Through the foundation, Eagle Crest in 2017 started a sister school relationship with the Mwebaza Annex school, which opened a year ago.
"There are just things mushrooming up all over the school," Freehill said. "It's very exciting."
Monday's art sale is the school's main fundraiser for its Ugandan sister school.
Art teacher Mandy Adams had students at each grade level make African-influenced art, including wire trees, yarn giraffes and clay animals and pots. Parents were asked to donate money in exchange for their student's work.
The money raised will allow the Ugandan school to buy chickens and a coop to raise chickens for school lunches. Eagle Crest also is raising money for a longer-term project, a new well to provide clean drinking water at a cost of about $20,000.
"The art sale has been the biggest community project," Adams said. "Every one in the school had a part."
To create connections with Uganda, three Eagle Crest teachers traveled there over the summer to work in three of the Mwebaza schools.
One of those teacher was kindergarten teacher Hillari Hansen, who also runs a lunchtime club of about 45 fourth- and fifth-graders who promote and support the sister school. They helped run Monday's art fundraiser and other small fundraisers throughout the year.
The students also collect school and medical supplies to send to Uganda, make presentations to classes and write letters for a twice-a-year pen pal exchange.
"They have a hard time in Uganda," said fifth-grader Neva Comstock. "We want the world to be fair. It brings me joy to bring other kids joy."