Indigenous traditions with Chris Knapp ’97

Chris Knapp (Waynflete class of 1997) visited with students in the 2-3 program this week. Chris runs an educational organization in Temple, Maine, called Koviashuvik Local Living School. He taught students about indigenous traditions and skills, including pounding ash logs to make basket splints, collecting beechnuts from a beech tree outside Thomas House, and using birch bark and willow bark to make bracelets. Chris demonstrated making fire using a bow drill.

Learning about the Wabanaki in the Piney Woods

Mi’kmaq elder and traditional storyteller David Lonebear Sanipass recently visited with second and third graders under the towering trees of the “Piney Woods.” With his young audience surrounding him in a circle, David told three stories. The first was about a bird who wished to gift his singing voice to the people. The next story was about David’s encounter with a bear. The final story told how rabbit came to be from a fat rat. During his storytelling, David played his traditional Mi’kmaq northern block flute and engaged playfully with his rapt audience.

Each of David’s stories held important messages for the children: it matters to be kind, generous, and patient; greedy and selfish behavior can get you into a lot of trouble; and bears are to be respected—from a distance! David stressed the importance of storytelling as a way to learn from and appreciate each other. He encouraged his young audience to tell stories, a task the children will honor later this fall when they write “pourquoi tales” influenced by the Wabanaki storytelling tradition.

David Sanipass’s visit is part of the 2-3 program’s integrated thematic study of the Wabanaki People of Maine. For more than 25 years, this study has been a major curricular focus featuring special guests from Maine’s indigenous communities.



The Garage

The seventh- and eighth-grade lockers were relocated to the Forum over the summer, freeing up the standalone building between Cook-Hyde/Morrill  and Hurd to be reimagined as a new multipurpose space.

Big shout-out to Jeff Smith from the facilities crew for his hard work. Jeff took the building down to its studs (check out the video below), then raised the ceiling, re-insulated, put down new flooring, and installed a new heating system. For everything from class activities to theater arts to yoga to faculty meetings, “The Garage” is already getting plenty of use!

Jeff Smith in the new space

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Art opening in K-1

K-1 students are grouped into four habitats representing forest, marsh, meadow, and garden. In conjunction with their study of these habitats, students recently created elements for a community mural.

Each habitat focused on a season: the meadow in winter, the marsh in spring, the garden in summer, and the forest in fall. Students created animals in their classrooms and painted in the art studio (Community Art takes place once a week and is a collaboration between visual arts and the classroom curriculum).

The grand finale was an art opening. The completed four-piece mural was revealed, treats were served, and string music was provided by Andy Happel and senior Morgan Peppe. Students learned that an opening is an opportunity to celebrate artwork!

Following in Calder’s footsteps

Alexander Calder was an American sculptor who lived from 1898-1976. Calder originally studied and practiced engineering. His interest in how things moved and balanced can be seen in all of his artwork.

After moving to Paris in 1926, Calder began constructing dozens of tiny figures and props for his beloved circus performance and installation. He transformed materials such as wire, wood, metal, cloth, cork, fabric, and string into clever and detailed animals, clowns, acrobats, and other performers. He made over seventy figures and animals, hundreds of accessories such as nets and flags, and more than thirty musical instruments and noisemakers. Using kinetics, Calder made each character move and would perform his circus for up to two hours for audiences. This transformation of material and objects into new forms is similar in practice to the creativity and ingenuity so dramatically portrayed in book The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.

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