Students in Common Ground Celebrate Chinese New Year

Shannon Rossman Allen
Common Ground, a program designed for students in grades 1-5 that strengthens and supports the informal connections that develop among students of ethnically diverse backgrounds at FWCD, celebrated Chinese New Year last week by hosting Dr. Fan Zhou, mother of Harmon Hong ’29 and Sean Hong ’27. Dr. Zhou talked to the students about the history of the Chinese calendar and the Year of the Rooster. She described family celebrations and gave the students a description of the personality types of individuals born each year. In addition to learning about the art of calligraphy, students were able to practice creating symbols on a special disappearing ink mat using traditional animal hair pens. Common Ground focuses on building community, nurturing self-esteem, appreciating differences, celebrating similarities and solving problems with the overarching goal to make each child feel safe, nurtured and special about who they are and about who they aspire to become.
 
The purpose of Common Ground is to provide a place and a space for children of diverse backgrounds to come together to celebrate who they are. Students who participate in these voluntary get-togethers meet weekly on Monday afternoons in six-week sessions to engage in team-building projects that help them feel connected, reaffirm identity and develop a positive self-image. Theresa Fuss, Lower School Health and Wellness Counselor, serves as Common Ground adviser. “We hope students have their own ‘soft place to land’ within the wider community as a result of Common Ground,” she said.
 
Each meeting is co-led by teacher pairs, including Fuss, Sarah Aktar Smith ’91, First-Grade Teacher; Lauren Anderson, Second Grade Teacher; Natasha Hatcher, Lower School Spanish Teacher; Rona Mattocks, Lower School French Teacher; and Gaby Booth, Lower School Spanish Teacher. Dorrine DeChant, Visual Arts Teacher, is also on the committee and has work diligently since its inception. The meetings vary to include team building, games, sharing of heritage through different activities and speakers, and culminates in a trip to Main Event in May. Currently about 19 students participate in Common Ground.
 
Common Ground at Fort Worth Country Day is in its seventh year. It is a program based on work that came out of the Gordon School in Rhode Island. Edwena Thompson, former FWCD Lower School Teacher, learned of the program at a People of Color Conference and brought it back to Fort Worth Country Day.
4200 Country Day Lane, Fort Worth, TX 76109
Phone: 817.732.7718
Fort Worth Country Day (FWCD) is a K-12 private, independent, coeducational, nondenominational college-preparatory school located on approximately 100 acres in Fort Worth, Texas. The mission of Fort Worth Country Day School is to foster the intellectual, physical, emotional, and ethical development of capable students through an academically rigorous college preparatory program that integrates the arts and athletics.