Byline: Catherine Edman Daily Herald Staff Writer
Mike Zamora poured his fake Japanese tea into tiny, empty cups with all the solemnity a second-grader could muster.
In other words, he wore a face-splitting grin.
Kneeling in the center of an Evergreen Elementary School classroom, Zamora, 8, was demonstrating to his classmates an Asian custom steeped in tradition - a Japanese tea ceremony.
Many schools choose to have classroom parties for Halloween, others might have costume parades. Evergreen holds a Fall Theme Day. This year's topic was the Far East.
The school began holding the event seven years ago as a way to shift attention away from characters based on violent films, which were increasingly the source for costumes, Principal Jean Peterson said.
Each year they moved a little further away from school-sponsored Halloween activities.
Now the entire day is spent on fun elements of a time period or culture: Taste of the Orient, Native American, medieval times, pioneer days and Mexican fiesta.
It gives "parents and children a way to help us understand their family's culture," Peterson said.
Students started the day with a martial arts demonstration then moved through a series of classrooms doing such things as the tea ceremony; playing Tinikling, a game from the Philippines; making Japanese fish prints or origami houses; and watching a marionette performance of the Chinese folk tale "The Emperor and the Nightingale."
So did Zamora ever imagine he'd host a formal Japanese tea ceremony?
"Not in music class," the Carol Stream boy said.
Go Fish: Sixth-grade students at Jackson Middle School in Villa Park said goodbye to some friends this weekend: 14 smallmouth bass.
They released the fish at the Hidden Lake Forest Preserve, near Butterfield Road and Route 53, ending a school project on biodiversity in Illinois.
The bass were a mere one to two inches long when they arrived in early September. Now, the fish are about five inches long and more suited to survival in the wild.
As part of the unit, students studied habitats such as the Amazon rain forest, but the bass project helped them see nature right here in DuPage County, too.
"It makes it real for the kids," said Jackson science teacher Carol Godoy, who worked with teacher Pat Gagnon on the project. "They don't realize there's so much biodiversity in Illinois."
Bass in the Class developed a few years ago as an extension of a program that called for students to make field trips to monitor local streams, explained Tom Pray, nature center supervisor at Fullersburg Woods Forest Preserve in Oak Brook.
Pray said the district buys the fish in August from a hatchery then distributes them to teachers. As soon as school starts in the fall, students begin to observe, feed and study the fish in classes.
For example, students can learn where the bass fits on the food chain or graph its growth over time for a math exercise. Plus, students can name the fish and watch them grow. …