Thursday, November 24, 2016

Celebrating FLOW 2016

The third annual "FLOW Reception" was held at Bath City Hall on Thursday, 11/17. The idea for this culminating event originally came from our partners at Chewonki who recognized what a powerful experience FLOW is for the kids and the community at large, and knew that it warranted a celebration. Now, in our third year of FLOW, the reception seems more important than ever.

FLOW is not just a canoe camping trip -- it's a pivotal experience that opens the door to deep, contextual learning in every content area. And it also helps kids build skills in crucial areas that fall outside the traditional content strands: strengthening relationships with peers and teachers, increasing self-reliance, practicing compassion, promoting stewardship and appreciation of nature, and experiencing the value of perseverance, quality and effort.

The event has been well attended each year, and is always catered by Katie Winglass from Mae's CafĂ©. The food is delicious and beautifully displayed, and Katie brings a helper with her -- her daughter Mae. Mae, now a sophomore at Morse High School, was in the first group of students to ever attend FLOW in 2014. Out of the corner of my eye I watched Mae as she occasionally paused from setting out food to look around the room at the photographs and student work displayed on the walls. I imagined she was reminiscing about her own week out on the Sheepscot River with her classmates. We hope that kids hold onto the powerful memories from FLOW, and draw on them as a resource as they continue to grow up, developing and clarifying their sense of self. 
RSU 1 Superintendent Patrick Manuel speaking to the audience.

The Bath City Hall is a wonderful venue for a gathering like this. It's so meticulously maintained that it feels like a time capsule. This is where important city meetings take place. This is where citizens of Bath vote. This is where we celebrate our students and their community for another year of successful FLOW trips.

This year's students all wrote as part of their trip. One group wrote "vignette memoirs," another group wrote narratives, and another group wrote creation myths in the tradition of the Wabanaki tribe that once lived throughout the Sheepscot River watershed. Seven students presented excerpts of their work at the gathering. On the back wall of the room, students' paintings and pop-up books were on display. 

BMS Humanities teacher Adele Carter explaining student projects.

WCS Social Studies teacher Leann Fisher introducing her students who read vignette-memoirs.

BMS art teacher, Jackie McKeon, was incredibly excited to be a chaperone for FLOW this year. She dove right in to the experience with ideas for integrating art. Students created sketches and watercolors while out on FLOW, and then spent time back at school developing those ideas into paintings. The landscape/still life paintings depict moments in time from FLOW.

This is the kind of high level student work that becomes possible when teachers see the potential in educational opportunities like FLOW. Jackie knew the experience would elicit strong feelings in students, and she harnessed those emotions to help them create these extraordinary works of art.

Another project that Jackie created was a visual and tactile complement to the myths students wrote in the Wabanaki tradition. Each student created a 4 panel pop-up book combining artwork with excerpts of their myth. The students were captivated by the work--  it was fun, challenging, and exciting.  It too required concentration and perseverance. Approaching concepts from different perspectives using multiple disciplines is a way to cement learning in students' minds. 

On Friday, November 18th, Bath Middle School held its first all-school CREW assembly. This was a chance for each of the six houses in the building to share some highlights from the start of the school year. Following a slideshow of photographs from FLOW, The 8th grade students presented posters they had made celebrating their favorite moments of the trip.

Programs like FLOW don't just happen. So many talented and dedicated people collaborate for the success of this program. Thank you to everyone who played a role in this year's trips. And thanks especially to the teachers who gave up a week of their lives to go explore our local wilderness with a bunch of 8th graders:

Barb Mills (BMS P.E.)
Elizabeth Rattey (BMS Foreign Language)
Rick McGuire (BMS Math)
Leah Heyman (BMS Science)
Don Seymour (BMS Computer)
Adele Carter (BMS Humanities)
Monica Wright (BMS Science)
Kyle Beeton (WCS ELA)
Leann Fisher (WCS Social Studies)
Nancy Riggs (WCS Special Education)
Denise Friant (WCS Science)
Lawrence Kovacs (RSU 1 GT)
Theo Lucas (WCS Ed. Tech)
Brent Luchies (BMS Science)
Jackie McKeon (BMS Art)

We are already excited and looking forward to FLOW 2017!

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