Highlands School first launched the Country of Study Program in June, 2014, with Japan as our inaugural country. Funded through a three-year-commitment from the Highlands School Parents’ Auxiliary, this program enables two faculty members to travel to the selected country during the summer to study, visit schools, and immerse themselves in the culture of the country.
Our selected country for the 2015-2016 school year is South Africa. The travelers’ South African expedition into a different country and culture has been instrumental in weaving the country into many facets of the curriculum.
As a culmination to this year-long study, a Celebration to South Africa was held March 10th. The evening included a showcase of our students’ work as well as fun-filled activities such as cultural exhibits, a Tree of Life, an artifacts table, and musical presentations.
Our youngest learners studied and researched such areas as The Big Five, musical instruments, art, Ndebele homes, animal tracks/tracking, safaris, and elephant tusks/teeth to name a few. The “Africam” site was popular as students watched animals “live” in the wild.
Other areas of study for our elementary students were The Marine Five, landforms in Cape Town, South African sound instruments, South African contributions, the very popular penguins, and alternatives for South Africa’s water problems including water filtration systems.
Our fourth and fifth graders delved into their interests in a big way by choosing varying topics to research. Students then created their own projects to share their learning. Such areas as cooling towers, native languages, ocean life, native tribes, sports and games, famous people, and education are only a few of the topics which fascinated our students.
Our Middle School students have learned about aspects of South Africa ranging from the earliest human history through tribal times to modern South Africa. The Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site proved to be intriguing. Students wrote African Folktales and also studied South Africa as part of their Junior United Nations Assembly work.