Letter to the Editor:
Thank you for the wonderful attention you gave to our project “A Flotilla of Stories” created with the students of St. John’s schools in your February 19 to 25, 2007 issue. “A Flotilla of Stories” is the flowering of a rich collaboration with the schools of St. John and students of Friends Seminary in New York City, a kindergarten through grade 12 Quaker school.
This collaboration was born out of an interest to share the importance of oral histories and the need to honor and sustain local tradition and the environment that supports them. Jill and I have a shared interest in documenting local histories through the arts.
The depth of the project included children interviewing their family elders to discover their childhood connections to nature. This enriched the children’s own documentation of their connections to nature which inspired the beautiful watercolor scrolls documenting their stories. Creating the nature story scrolls were a bridge to creating actual toy boats, which have always been part of children’s play near water. Each piece of the project built upon all the other parts.
Building deeper understanding and respect for local histories and traditions is integral to the project’s traveling to New York City. The third graders of Friends Seminary will be following the same series of projects as the third grade students of St. John, including the making of coconut boats. They will be building sailboats native to the northeast coast of the U.S. Our New York fleet of toy boats is scheduled to sail on Earth Day, April 22, after the snow melts!
We would like to extend a sincere thank you to everyone in the St. John community who supported and enriched this year’s “North Meets South Collaboration” project, “A Flotilla of Stories.”
The teachers, principals and assistant principals of all three schools are gratefully acknowledged here for their support and flexibility. We would like to especially thank Jamie Johnson and Laurie Odenbach. They are each actively involved in the community in their own ways and were involved in this project as well. They took on helping with the logistics of making the “North Meets South” collaboration happen before, during and after the project. Thank you both.
We would also like to thank Theo Moorehead for her support and for helping us gather the indispensable coconut husks in her backyard. Mr. Guy Benjamin has our deep gratitude for his stories, conversations, and toy boat advice. Ted Scheer has our thanks for his help making model coconut boats. Daniel Johnson has our special thanks for being an assistant teacher during the boat making session.
Thanks to the St. John community for your enthusiasm and for understanding how important the children really are.
We’ll be back next year.
Maureen Mullen and Jill Olesker