Preston Elementary teacher helps students share culture, pride with class project

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Photos RUSD: Jazmine Siddiqui (pictured left), Preston Elementary School third-grade student, shows off her “My Culture Presentation” as her mom Karla Siddiqui and her third-grade teacher Raquel Fuentes (right) listen. Students created displays to show off their cultural heritage. Jazmine’s presentation showed off both her Mexican and Pakistani heritage.

Students in Raquel Fuentes’ third-grade class at Preston Elementary School flashed bright smiles as they shared in each other’s cultural heritage with a popular class project recently.

The “My Culture Presentation” project had officially returned! 

Students in Fuentes’ class created projects to show off their cultural heritage. The displays include family photos, traditions, information about the countries their families originated from, maps, and much more about each student’s culture and family history. Students get to learn more about where their families came from and then learn about their classmates’ history once it comes time to present. 

Students in Raquel Fuentes’ third-grade class welcome visitors as they display their projects for the “My Culture Presentation” recently. The annual, and very popular, project in Fuentes’ class helps students learn about their family history and t culture and then learn about their classmates’ cultural heritage as they share their presentations in class.

“My students learn not only about their culture, they learn about their classmates’ cultural heritage as well,” Fuentes said. “Cultural heritage is deeply personal, but it is also a connection we all share; through connecting with your culture you connect more with those around you and we learn that we have a lot in common with each other.” 

Fuentes first started the classroom project in 2014. While it was on hold during the pandemic due to COVID-19 restrictions, students welcomed its return.

“I really liked learning about each other’s cultures,” Isaias Rivera, a third-grade student, stated, joyfully. 

Mathew Rojas (right), Preston Elementary School third-grade student, shows off his “My Culture Presentation” to his third-grade teacher Raquel Fuentes. Rojas’ presentation board displayed his family’s Mexican heritage with photos and information about traditions.

“My favorite part was sharing my culture with students and parents.” Jazmine Siddiqui, a third-grade student, said.

This year students created projects that represented their heritage from Pakistan, Trinidad and Tobago, Columbia, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Mexico as well as African American and American roots. It was a welcomed learning experience. 

“This connected learning opens doors for sharing and exploring the world while never really leaving the classroom,” Fuentes said.

The presentations have earned rave reviews over the years and have drawn visitors from parents to Rialto Unified School District staff, and a proud Preston Elementary School Principal Monica Radcliffe-Perez as they take a look at the students’ projects. 

“Each year Mrs. Fuentes has her students work collaboratively with their families to explore and celebrate everything that is uniquely them,” Radcliffe-Perez said. “In doing this project, the students not only learn more about their own families and culture, but they also begin to embrace the commonalities they discover among their friends. Mrs. Fuentes’ room comes alive with the sights, sounds, and sometimes smells, of the student’s diverse cultural backgrounds and experiences. It is a celebration that we all share. The student’s smiles and enthusiasm last for days after.”