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Fifth-graders unmask their inner superheroes in comic book workshop 

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Fifth-graders unmask their inner superheroes in comic book workshop 

At Gideon Pond Elementary, fifth-grade students in Jes Rau’s and Hannah Selby’s classes had the unique opportunity to take part in a comic book workshop on Oct. 3 and Oct. 5.   

Funded by a U.S. State Department Citizens Diplomacy Action Fund (CDAF) grant and facilitated by Global Minnesota, a local nonprofit dedicated to advancing international understanding and engagement, the workshop was aimed at celebrating diversity and cultural heritage in comic books, which are one of the most popular forms of storytelling for young readers.

Organized by first-grade teacher Elisa Odegard, the workshop was led by Leorian Ricardo, the creative director of the largest comic book publisher in the Dominican Republic.

leorian ricardo talks with a student about her comic book

With guidance from Ricardo, the workshop provided a creative platform for students not only to hone their artistic skills but also to create stories infused with elements from their own experiences and cultural backgrounds. 

“This workshop allowed students to bring their stories to life,” said Hannah Selby. “Students were able to use their imagination to create a story about a main character that represented themselves. Many of our students are underrepresented in books, specifically comic books. It was important for them to create a story where they could see themselves and share their experiences, cultures and identities.”

Gideon Pond Principal Salma Hussein added: “Our fifth-grade comic book workshop aligns with District 191’s mission by enhancing students' communication skills and strengthening our community through collaboration. It provides a safe and supportive platform for creative expression — encouraging students to embrace their imagination."

To see Leorian’s projects and learn more about his work, visit

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Wayfinder. Looking through a row of 3D printers

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