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2-28-19 — Flags of the World Represent Pioneer Trail Students

Feb. 28, 2019 ~ The Pioneer Trail Middle School library recently acquired a large piece of artwork that honors the school’s diverse student body. Standing nearly 8 feet square, the flags of 25 countries are displayed on a foam core panel and dominate one wall of the library.

“The flag collage represents the countries our students come from,” said library media specialist Sharon Beggs. “The staff and students have really responded well to it. They enjoy learning about the flags.”

The idea for a visual representation of the student body culture came to Beggs during first semester when an English Language Learning (ELL) classroom temporarily moved into the library.

“My library clerk and I made a connection with the kids, and I came up with the idea to do a collage to represent and honor those kids,” Beggs said.

“One of Pioneer Trail’s many strengths is the diversity of our students,” said ELL lead teacher Kaci Adams. “Student diversity provides opportunities for our staff and classes to build real world connections with various backgrounds and experiences.”

The school’s data operator determined there were 25 nationalities represented in the student body, and some of the yearbook students began researching the flag for each country. The district’s Graphic Communications Department put together the collage and had the foam core printed. The final step was to figure out how to display such a large piece. Industrial Technology teacher Dennis O’Connell and physical education teacher Ryan Hull worked together to build a wooden frame with plywood backing to support the collage panels.

“Projects like this help get students talking about different cultures and speculating on why a country chose the flag colors and designs shown,” O’Connell said. “It’s nice to be a part of projects promoting diversity.”

He’s heard students comment on the size of the collage and the bright colors of many flags. They also wonder if more flags will be added at some time. Interestingly, Beggs said four more nations could be added to represent students who have joined Pioneer Trail since the display was created. A quote by Malala Yousafzai, education activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, encircles the flags: “One child, one teacher, one book, one pen, can change the world.”

“We also have a smaller version of the piece in our ELL room,” Adams said. “The students quickly gravitated toward the display to find their flag and learn about the others represented. Each class has spent time identifying the flags and finding out who may be from that country.

“The students were proud to have their flags displayed and to have their countries represented,” she added. “Although a new life in America can provide opportunities for a better future, students also want to honor their past.”