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Homeschooled kids ‘show off what they’ve learned’ at Johnstown-area cultural fair

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Jan. 16—JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — Homeschooled children from Cambria, Somerset and Blair counties showcased their knowledge of the diverse world around them at a cultural fair on Monday at a Johnstown-area church.

“International Day” displays were created by about 50 children, ages 5 to 14, who shared what they had learned about the language, people and geography of countries such as Canada, Egypt, Poland and France.

The event was hosted by the Johnstown-area home-school co-op group God Leads Our Way (GLOW) at Oakland Church, 1504 Bedford St. in the Oakland section of Stonycreek Township.

“A child or family take a country, research it on their own and put together a display,” said Sue Paonessa, one of the organizers. “It’s a chance to show off what they’ve learned and for the kids to make friends and socialize.”

Xavier Stranathan, 12, and sister Arella, 8, of Colver, chose to learn about Canada and Sweden, respectively.

Xavier, who is “all about hockey,” chose Canada. He is an avid hockey fan who plays goalie and enjoys traveling to Pittsburgh to watch his favorite team play.

Arella’s display included various bits of information about Sweden — that “Dalecarlian horses,” carved and painted wooden statues of horses that today symbolize Sweden’s Dalarna province, originated as toys for children; that Lake Vattern is the second-largest lake in Sweden, after Lake Vanern; that Sweden is the home of the first hotel made out of ice, which “has reindeer skins on the beds and seats so you don’t get cold,” Arella said.

Twelve-year-old student Angelica Marsh chose to make a display about France.

“I learned a lot about the government and the language,” she said. “It’s really beautiful. I find it very interesting.”

Across the room, Paislee Detwiler, 6, of Sidman, erected a display about England that included Peppa Pig, a character from a British animated children’s TV series.

“She lives in England and she likes to jump in muddy puddles,” Paislee said.

Twins Madilyn and Kaylee Yock, both 7, selected Egypt and Italy, respectively.

“I like the pyramids and the sphinx,” Madilyn said. “The sphinx has the head of a man and the body of a lion.”

“I learned about the volcano eruption,” added Kaylee, referring to the eruption of Italy’s Mount Etna in December, “and my mom told me about the Colosseum.”

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