Hands On program

Nella Spurlin, the “Hands On” committee chair, shows Lakewood Elementary students a variety of German items during a session on Oct. 7 at the Azalee Marshall Cultural Activities Center in Temple.

“Hands On,” a cultural initiative created by the Contemporaries of the Azalee Marshall Cultural Activities Center in Temple, is eager to broaden elementary-aged students’ knowledge and respect of foreign cultures.

“For over 30 years, the organization has been presenting Hands On as an interactive field trip for third-graders ... to learn about the culture of other countries, people and time periods,” Nella Spurlin, the Hands On committee chair, said. “When the students arrive by bus at the (Azalee Marshall Cultural Activities Center), they enter the auditorium for a brief introduction, and then ‘fasten their seat belts’ for a virtual trip.”

On Thursday, students from Belton ISD’s Lakewood Elementary got the opportunity to learn about Germany.

“It’s actually gone pretty smoothly,” Spurlin told the Telegram about the two-hour program. “Two of us are retired German teachers ... so it’s been particularly fun for us to draw on some personal experiences we’ve had over the past years.”

Spurlin, who led the program’s “gallery” sessions, noted how the third graders were rather attentive and interactive with her presentation.

“We’ve had a good time with the kids. They’ve been very involved and … it is so nice to have the kids back in person,” she said. “Several of the teachers have said how nice it is for the kids to go on a field trip again because it’s been almost two years since they’ve gotten to do that. For them to get out of the school setting and come somewhere else in the community to learn is really nice.”

Although students cycled through four stations on Thursday — art, theater, movement and gallery — Amelia Abell said she favored one more than the others.

“Theater was my favorite. The story was about a pilot who gave starving kids candy after World War II,” the 8-year-old said. “I got to act and really learned how to express my feelings today through theater.”

However, the Lakewood Elementary student was still intrigued by what she learned through the program’s other stations.

“In gallery, the (German) nutcrackers were my favorite,” she said. “My grammy used to collect nutcrackers and gave me a little nutcracker before … so they reminded me of her.”

“Hands On,” which began on Sept. 14, will continue to run twice weekly until Tuesday, Oct. 26.

About 1,500 children from Temple and Belton schools are anticipated to attend its programming this year.