Thursday, September 1, 2011

Swapping Fish Tales from Alaska to Maine

4th grader, Aivine Soakai, plays bass for the play, Dear Fish
Through a Kennedy Center Partners in Education Grant, Glacier Valley students partnered with Thunder Mountain High School and Deer Isle School in Maine to explore the fishing cultures of both communities using integrated technology, visual and performing arts. Research collected from trips out in the field and interviews with local fishermen formed the basis for a playwright performed by both elementary and high school students in April 2011.

Music was very much a part of this performance including traditional sea shanties and classic rock songs to reflect the contemporary life of a fisherman.  Glacier Valley's own Rock Band played live for both performances here in Juneau, while many of their classmates took to the stage to act and sing alongside high school students.  This collaborative project hopefully will be the first of many to connect our elementary school students with its neighboring high school.  So far, the arts have proven to be a powerful way to make it happen. 

Teaching Theatre Journal featured Dear Fish on the front cover of its 2011 summer issue.  The performance in April was well-received by both coastal communities.  Audience comments included, "I am an Alaskan fisherman.  It made me feel good to be recognized."  Another wrote, "The diversity of cutlrues, ages, and abilities brings tears to my eyes."

Thank you, Annie Calkins, Dave Hunsaker, Ryan Conarro, and the entire Glacier Valley, Thunder Mountain and Juneau fishing communities.  This project helped both schools connect local issues to a more global perspective through the arts and technology. Students learned that even though they live on different coasts, they face similar issues, struggles, and celebrations and were able to personally express their learning through all of the arts.

We're proud of our Glacier Valley kids ...


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