‘Kaleidoscope’ presentation offers touch of Ireland

Dearbhail Finnegan plays the Irish harp during a presentation at Regina Elementary Jan. 7.

Regina Elementary Home and School Association’s mission is to provide support academically, socially and spiritually. It raises funds to help programming, which includes sponsoring a visiting artist each year. 

Past artists have included a muralist, a songwriter, a Russian dancer and a martial arts expert. This year the Home and School Association supported an Irish couple through the company Cultural Kaleidoscope, which is based in Kansas City, Mo.

Teaching through the arts motivates students and lets them tap into another dimension of learning.  Research has shown that connecting the curriculum through the arts reaches a variety of students.

Robin Slater and Dearbhail Finnegan, a husband-and-wife team, presented the “Irish Kaleidoscope” at Regina Elementary School on Jan. 7. Slater and Finnegan have been visiting schools and talking about their home country of Ireland since 2002. After they introduced the country and its music, they met with students in smaller groups to talk about details concerning Irish culture, sports and language. 

During the day, the couple played and explained Irish music. Slater played the Irish drum, or bodhran, and Finnegan played the Irish harp. She explained that the harp is the national symbol of Ireland. The couple also taught the students a few Gaelic phrases.  Each grade level had a specific workshop, where the students learned Irish dancing and Irish songs, which later they performed for the school.

Olivia Wolfe, a Regina sixth-grade student, showed her classmates some of the traditional Irish dancing she has been learning for the past seven years.  She plans to visit Ireland where she will be participating in a dance competition in March.

Students can now greet their classmates with an Irish hello, “diadhuit,” or an Irish good-bye, “slan.”

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