Ahwatukee Foothills teachers took Arizona's centennial celebration on Tuesday as an opportunity to teach their students about the state's history and the elements that make the 48th state unique.

One Kyrene art teacher was even able to integrate the other holiday that took place on Tuesday.

Cassidy Parker and the students at Kyrene de la Estrella Elementary spent their class time sharing artist trading cards, ones they created to highlight one plant, animal, place, or person that is important to Arizona. Two classrooms came in at a time and the students were randomly paired together and shared what they learned about their subject.

"Artist trading cards are kind of a hot item right now, it's trendy and the kids really enjoyed making them," Parker said. "It coincides with Valentine's Day so they can share the facts they learned and celebrate the centennial at the same time."

Students chose different plant life and animals like the gray fox and the chuckwalla to write about. They drew a picture and decorated the card before they shared it with the others.

"There are so many cool animals in the desert," Estrella student Logan Knapowski said. "If I could live anywhere in the world, it would be here because I like the places and my family is here."

Parker also used it as an opportunity to encourage respect between students as they shared and traded their cards for the school-wide project that she also saw as an opportunity to bring together different aspects of learning.

"We talked about being respectful to one another because they would be showing their art to someone they didn't know and vise versa," she added. "Through the project we were also able to incorporate technology, science, history and art into one overarching assignment."

Kindness Day at St. John Bosco

Students at St. John Bosco in Ahwatukee Foothills took a different approach on Tuesday. For months each classroom planned and rehearsed a skit, song or speech with the theme of "kindness." It was the idea of the student council and a school-wide assembly was the culminating event of what they were calling "The Kindness Project."

"They came up with this on their own as a way to promote kindness and respect among the student body," St. John Bosco principal Shelley Connor said. "It was a great way to bring the whole school together."

In late 2011, the student council made a three-minute-long video about sharing kindness, which was shown to the whole school. Afterward, the classroom began working independently on its own kindness projects.

"The student council challenged the other classes to do something in kindness," Connor said.

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

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