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South Effingham students receive cultural exposure
A display board in the South Effingham media center is adorned with several pictures of French masterpieces on March 15. - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff

GUYTON — Everyone can’t go to France or Spain so the South Effingham High School media center brings those countries to some of its students through Cultural Museum Week.

Each year since 2010, the media center has joined forces with the school’s language and art departments to form a “cultural museum.” Spain and France take turns in the spotlight.

“One of the things I explain to the students is that every country in the world has its own culture,” said Catherine Olivier, media specialist. “The cultural elements are art, architecture, music, dance, drama, literature and food, among other things. From really primitive times, human beings were tracing their hands on a cave through a desire to have self expression.

“That’s how each culture becomes unique based on where it is and shared values.”

The media center offers a sizeable glimpse of its featured nations. The number of items shown each year keeps expanding.

“The show has art, music and a little snack,” Olivier said. “Our snack is tied in to the subject we are working with.”

Spain was the country of choice during the first week of March. The students nibbled on tortilla chips and salsa while inspecting pictures of Spanish paintings. They also enjoyed fruit punch while taking it all in.

“We try to create a nice atmosphere,” Olivier said. “It’s a fun way for students to use their new foreign language skills in a different way.”
The experience is designed to be enjoyable and educational.

“Every Spanish class, every French class and most of the art classes have a chance to look at the art and respond to it with the discipline or curriculum they are using,” Olivier said.

Students are assigned to fill out an “Artwork Appreciation Form” in the appropriate language. It asks them several questions about the items they viewed. They are required to answer in their language of study.

A word wall is used to fortify the learning process. It features the Spanish or French equivalent of words like “sculpture” or “masterpiece.”
Students are also encouraged to share their thoughts on museums they have visited. Many have visited the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum in Pooler and/or the Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C.

“Usually, there is going to be one thing that strikes you,” Olivier said. “Those things helps bring in the students’ experience and helps them realize they have experienced museums whether they looked at art or not.”