Published: Wednesday, July 31, 2013
St. Michael’s students can prepare for big dose of Alaska
When Catholic schools in St. Mary’s start the new school year on Aug. 26 (the first day for public schools is Aug. 21), students at St. Michael’s School in Ridge can prepare for a year rich in Alaskan art, animals and plant life, if the school’s art teacher, Carol Morris of Lexington Park, has anything to say about it.
Morris will just be returning from a three-week-long “learning vacation” in Alaska right about that first day of school, and she has plans to incorporate her travel experiences in her art classes as well as in other aspects of the curriculum at the school.
After three weeks of traveling and learning and even offering a icon workshop at a Catholic school in Anchorage (an art project for which Morris is well-known among St. Michael’s families), Morris said St. Michael’s students can expect to have an especially enthusiastic art teacher. “I’ll be able to tell them about things I [hadn’t] experienced [before] and maybe they haven’t experienced,” Morris said Friday morning.
Students can also expect to participate in a pen-pal program with students at Holy Rosary Academy in Anchorage. The third- and fourth-grade students at St. Michael’s are expected to also participate in a Skype project with the Alaskan students, and there may be a Skype project that involves the Alaska Zoo. And art classes at St. Michael’s will benefit from her exposure to Native Alaskan art, her studies on Alaskan plants and their traditional uses, as well as the part that Alaskan animals play in the residents’ lives, Morris said.
From Aug. 5 to 26, Morris and her sister, Margaret Mackie, who is an art teacher also at Our Lady of Mount Carmel School in Essex, will meet with the principal of the Holy Rosary Academy, where they will teach the workshop on creating icon art; meet with officials at the Alaska Zoo about participation in its remote classroom grant; meet with a representative from the Alaska Botanical Garden to work on curriculum development focused on the state’s native plants; take a botanical drawing class; visit the Alaska Heritage Museum to study the history and culture of Alaska; and participate in a natural history field sketching and journaling workshop. In addition to Anchorage, they will travel to Homer, Whittier, Valdez, McCarthy and Kennicott in Alaska.
St. Michael’s students who want to get a jump on this new material can read a daily blog by Morris and Mackie at https://artcrossings.wordpress.com, where the teachers plan to record their travels by sketching, video, photos and journaling.
This will be Morris’ first trip to Alaska, although she has a brother, a salmon fisherman, who has lived in Homer for close to 20 years. “I’m a person who loves to learn, and I love sharing what I learn,” she said. “I see this as a learning vacation that I am able to share with the students.”
Morris has been an art teacher at St. Michael’s for 18-plus years. The school offers programs for pre-K through eighth grade and has approximately 140 students.