Plenty of local talent on display at Island Treasures
On May 17, Lawn Avenue School hosted its sixth annual Island Treasures, an educational outreach day that connects students to talented members of the community who share their passions with the children.
For the event, middle-school children are assigned groups and participate in various workshops. Along with informative presentations, the workshops have a strong hands-on component. The goal is to immerse the kids in the subject as much as possible in the short time available. The idea is to showcase local talents, while showing students how science, math, writing, language and arts can be applied to everyday life.
Started in 2007 through discussions at a Lawn Avenue School Improvement Team meeting, the program has grown and expanded. Today, students look forward to the event and keep their fingers crossed that they might be lucky enough to get one of the eight coveted spots at House of Pizza. Fred Bingell teaches them how to prepare a pizza, and it doesn’t hurt that they get to eat their work. This year if they failed to get into the pizza session, they still had hope to work with chef Kevin Gaudreau. It was said that the chocolate they made was to die for.
The workshops featuring the Fire Department, the EMS and the Police Department are always a success, with some students repeatedly signing up to attend. Who wouldn’t want to throw on full fire gear and use the Jaws of Life to simulate extricating trapped passengers from an accident? Not to mention bandaging the various wounds those passengers most likely received. If an accident scene wasn’t to their liking, crimescene investigation technique was covered. This included two hounds tracking a perp, ending with him in handcuffs, all in a day’s work.
The state Department of Environmental Management’s Division of Marine Fisheries also got into the act by generously sponsoring the day. Students were able to travel on a research trawler from Dutch Harbor to the grounds off Fox Island. Many students came into contact with species they hadn’t seen before, the sea squirt being one of their new favorites. Being on the water was also possible at Jamestown Boat Yard, where students could ride in a launch and explore the mooring field.
From the health of the human body to that of man’s best friend, students explored how diseases are diagnosed and how to take care of a pet. Children also designed a dream house and got to see how wind energy might power it; listened to an award-winning landscape architect share her experimental projects; and took a visit to Windmist Farm to see where some of their food comes from.
Others donned the gear of a beekeeper and tasted local honey. “I learned a lot and now want my own beehive, but I don’t think my mom will let me have one,” said Nathan Hough, a sixth-grader. Still others built bee houses to encourage native bees to pollinate local agriculture.
For those students a little more physically inclined, Balance Sports & Fitness took them through training programs used by professional athletes and ended the workshop with a nutritional smoothie. SmackGyver, Crazy Dukes and Hellcat Lucy from the Providence Roller Derby spun the children through several jams demonstrating the proper technique of a hip check. Kettlebottom Outfitters discussed hunting safety, the basics of fishing, and let the children practice their archery skills.
Students also got their hands dirty planting the barrels with the Quononoquott Garden Club, while others walked around the school identifying the local birds. Students wrote up radio essays and prepared them for airing – a few even got some heavy lifting in with KM Gladding Excavating’s equipment. Lt. Col. Chuck Wallace shared his flying experience, explored the forces of lift and drag, and let the kids fly a remote controlled helicopter. Seventh-grader Ethan Holt said, “I liked trying on the gear. The helmet and G suit were awesome!”
Musically inclined students jammed away on acoustic guitar, and listened to a most unique collection of carousel organs, music boxes and nickelodeons. Some traveled to the Jamestown Arts Center to create a mandala using the potting wheel. There was something for everyone – the island has a lot of treasures to share.
The Lawn Avenue School is always looking for community members interested in sharing their talents. If interested, call 423- 7010.