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ELL families enjoyed a fun night at Colonial Middle School

ELL families enjoyed a fun night at Colonial Middle School
children and high school volunteers painting rocks

Snippets of some of the 34 languages spoken by English Language Learners (ELLs) in the Colonial School District could be heard among the lively conversations at the recent ELL Family Fun Night at Colonial Middle School. 

The families visited a variety of stations in the cafeteria, taking part in activities like math games and craft projects, meeting community partners like the Montgomery County Library and Greater Plymouth Community Center, heading out on a scavenger hunt, and enjoying refreshments.

Fifth grader Nishla Shrestha created a beach-themed bracelet at the beading table. “I’m using shells and an eye to keep bad spirits away and gold beads for sea-like vibe,” she said.

Children and high school volunteers stringing beads for jewelry

In the gym, the students could play corn hole and other games, but most of the visitors were playing basketball. 

Colonial Middle School student Ali Al Hashim was shooting hoops with his little brother. It was a new sport for him; he misses badminton, a popular sport in Saudi Arabia where he is from. 

“I’m happy my family is here, and they can see the school,” said Ali about the ELL Family Fun Night. “They’re happy. I like the school so much.”

Teacher with student in gym

ELL teacher Meg Penrice with Ali and his little brother.

The English Language Development teachers, led by Rebecca Hepler at PWHS, teamed with students in the International Baccalaureate Career Programme (IBCP) at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School—in addition to volunteers from the PWHS National Honor Society, Intercultural Awareness Club, Spanish Club, Latin Club, and Apoyamos a Mexico Club—to create and run a variety activities for the families of the students who are learning English as a second language. 

At the registration table, IBCP students Aubrey Choi and Sierra Tirendi greeted families and helped them sign in. IBCP has a language development component where the students are required to spend 50 hours over two years to explore a target language and culture. 

“By participating in events like this, we get hours, but we also really enjoy the experience, because it helps us become better global-minded students,” said Aubrey, who used her target language of Spanish to help some of the families register.  

“I’m from Guatemala; I’m from a different country," added Sierra. "Being able to see this and being able to provide this kind of event to connect all of the families is really heartwarming.”

More than 300 families in the Colonial School District speak a language other than English at home.