Kyrene del Milenio Elementary Principal Jim Verrill believes the best way to get incoming students comfortable in a new environment is to show them that they are not alone.

Milenio has students from more than 20 countries, including Nepal, India and South Korea currently enrolled at the school. To celebrate the diversity within the walls, Verrill and assistant principal Adama Sallu went to Ellen Hunt, preschool assistant at Milenio, to design a display that could be seen by the entire school.

"It is a very diverse community and we have people that come here from all over the world," Sallu said. "Our thought was, ‘How do we make them feel more comfortable?'"

Hunt created a 4-foot-by-8-foot display that contains pictures of Milenio students. Verrill cited a study that said if a child at the school sees another student who looks as if they are from a similar part of the world, they will feel more at ease and, thus, be able to focus better.

"When they walk down the hall and see the display, I think it will make them more comfortable," Verrill said. "People come from all over to live and work in the area. We wanted to do something to celebrate that."

The Milenio PTO funded the project, which started with the idea from Verrill and Sallu in February. Hunt took the pictures and created the display to fit their specifications.

"The project took a long time and the outcome is amazing," Hunt said in an email. "It was a team effort which started with a vision that Jim and Adama had. Then they believed in me to capture the beautiful children."

The school is located at 4630 E. Frye Road in Ahwatukee.

Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or troemhild@ahwatukee.com

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