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Hartland Students Express Themselves During World Language Week

High school and middle school language students learned about world cultures during the annual event.

Elizabeth Mitchell of the Michigan Opera Theatre began studying voice when she was 16. Now she’s a mezzo-soprano singer — and opera singers don’t use microphones.

students learned this and more during a Hartland World Language Week session Tuesday. This year’s World Language Week theme is “Express Yourself.” Students from also attended the opera performance.

Eighth-grader Austin Ballou had never seen opera, and it was completely different from what he expected, Ballou said. “They didn’t wear Viking hats, and I honestly thought they were using a microphone, but they weren’t. They were just really loud and high-pitched, in a good way.”

The Michigan Opera Theatre singers’ performance was provided through the assistance of the Michigan Humanities Council and the Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs.

More than 800 HHS students in the World Language program at the high school are participating in this week’s events, said HHS French and English teacher Kathy Tyer. This is the seventh year it’s taken place, and it has grown from its beginnings.

“It’s an opportunity for students to explore world cultures,” she said.

Teachers want to expose students to languages and cultures of the world, not just the three world languages taught at HHS, said teacher Cathleen Haglund. French, German and Spanish are taught at the high school.

This year, students may select from almost 30 workshops and earn the 100 points for World Language Week. Activities include a scavenger hunt, photo exhibit and Web quest, Tyer said.

In addition to the opera performance Tuesday, high school students learned the Japanese art of origami. Following instructions, they folded bright pieces of paper into 3-D objects. Members of the Japanese Society of Detroit Women’s Club assisted them and showed the students a Japanese tea ceremony.

“It’s really cool,” said freshman Summer Brown, a Spanish II student. “I like the colors, and the Japanese tea ceremony was really fun.”

Folding origami with Brown was Makenzie Motschenvicher, also a freshman. Motschenvicher, a Spanish III student, said learning about a new culture was "really cool."

Sophomore Jessica Manzo, another Spanish student, said she was making an origami bird. Yesterday, she watched a Japanese movie for World Language Week.

“It’s really fun and interesting,” said sophomore Raven O’Rourke.

Junko Yoshida of the Japanese Society of Detroit Women’s Club helped O’Rourke and Manzo with their origami projects. Origami is from two Japanese words, meaning “to fold” and “paper.”

When this year’s Hartland World Language Week concludes, teachers will begin planning next year’s event, Tyer said. Teachers wrote the grant applications for this year’s opera performance.

The Michigan Opera Theatre members enjoyed their audience, said Mitchell. “We thought that everyone had a great energy.”

Hartland High School and Hartland Middle School at Ore Creek have different activities planned for World Language Week, but students from both schools attended the opera performance Tuesday in the high school auditorium.

At the middle school Tuesday, Dr. John Ellis, who is the parent of a student there, discussed Welsh culture — part of his family’s heritage, said Pam Iden, German teacher at the two schools. In addition, Argentine painter Nora Venturelli talked with students.

A banquet and student performances of classical music took place at the middle school today.

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