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Clark Elementary Students Finds Similarities in Differences

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Elijah and Murtaza are from different countries, but have the same fears. Elijah and Murtaza are from different countries, but have the same fears.
Students had a black and white picture taken with their partner. Students had a black and white picture taken with their partner.
With the picture, students wrote their similarities. With the picture, students wrote their similarities.
Clark students read the book "Same, Same But Different." Clark students read the book "Same, Same But Different."
Clark Elementary has students from more than 20 countries. Clark Elementary has students from more than 20 countries.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -

Clark Elementary School students are using a photo project to learn to appreciate their classmates’ similarities and differences.

In an effort to encourage their students to embrace diversity at a young age, teachers had students read the book “Same, Same But Different.” After reading the book, students paired up with a classmate who either looked different than them or had different hobbies. The job for the students was to then find out what they had in common.

Elijah Escalante-Mendez of Mexico and Murtaza Yaquobi of Afghanistan found out that they were both afraid of the dark and that they part their hair in similar ways.

“We have kids from all different backgrounds,” said ESL teacher April Hoffman. “We want everyone to fee like that they’re special.”

A black and white photograph with their partner and a short write-up on their classmate’s similarities were used to showcase their projects. For many students, the project showed them they have a lot more in common than they thought.

“We want them to appreciate just who they are and not to see the color of our skin,” Hoffman said.

By reading the book “Same, Same But Different” and getting to know their fellow classmates, teachers say they have seen a change in the way students treat one another.

“We’ve actually seen kids becoming friend with their partners and they hadn’t been friends in prior years at school so I know that they’re starting to really understand the concept of appreciating differences in others,” said second grade teachers Jessica Taylor.

Clark Elementary School holds kids from more than 20 different countries and teachers want students to know everybody has something worth celebrating.

“It’s crucial for our students to appreciate differences that they have but also that there are similarities amongst them and we need to teach them when they’re young so that it becomes intrinsic,” Hoffman said.

The teachers said they have seen students organize play dates with classmates who they did not previously hang out with since completing the project.