By TOM GJELTEN
Like any good fifth-grade teacher, Mike Matthews wants to make his social studies unit on the American West as exciting as possible. So he’s planning a special “Wild West” evening at the school with his students.
“We’re going to have good ol’ cowboy-fashion hot dogs and beans, Texas Toast and beef jerky,” he says. Matthews will tell stories around a mock campfire, and for added authenticity, the fifth-graders will set up a saloon.
Of course, the saloon scene will be free of any references to alcohol, since the school — Al Fatih Academy in Reston, Va. — is an Islamic institution.
“We had the discussion already about what is appropriate, according to our mission,” Matthews says. “The students are going to create an indoor saloon, but we’re going to make it kid-friendly.”