Fifth-graders from The Davis Academy and Mount Vernon Presbyterian School came together Dec. 13 for a day filled with interfaith learning and bonding. A total of 111 students – 58 from Davis and 53 from Mount Vernon – united on Mount Vernon’s campus to make new friends and share how they celebrate Christmas and Chanukah.
To kick things off, students enjoyed snacks of latkes and Christmas cookies while they worked in pairs to compare and contrast aspects of their lives. When asked about the importance of the event, Davis’ Rabbi Micah Lapidus said, “We hear from students that they want to meet kids from different backgrounds and different faiths and we love that idea and we support that idea and so we tried to reach out to schools that we thought would be good a match for us, and Mount Vernon is a great match for us.”
Students rotated through three different activities. One was a discussion of holiday symbols, where Davis kids explained the miracle of Chanukah and the meaning of the Star of David, and Mount Vernon students shared Christmas symbols like the Advent wreath and the nativity. “As we were discussing the lights on Christmas trees and how they are reminders of the light in the world, one of the Davis students raised her hand and said, ‘That’s like Chanukah! We have candles; it’s called the Festival of Lights!” She recognized that we both look to light as a symbol for what G-d has done for us,” said Laura Filyaw, one of the administrators from Mount Vernon. The other rotations included a discussion of Christmas in pop culture and a team-building activity in which students were challenged to move a hula hoop from person to person. Students learned throughout the day about their similarities and that they work better together. “I liked going into the classes and doing all the activities and learning about Christmas and how we’re all the same. We’re all people and we do the same things,” said Davis student Gabe Swartz. The day ended with a discussion about what the students learned, and a joint prayer led by Rev. Bruce Wilkes and Rabbi Lapidus. “I liked just hanging out with new people and getting to know people,” Davis student Peyton Frank said when asked about his favorite part of the day.