Anne’s Explorers

Today, Anne led Rey, Dave and I down to the Arch to view the Maplewood Richmond Heights Elementary School’s exhibit that is now on display there, School as Museum. For those not familiar with the place, underneath the Arch is the Museum of Westward Expansion. In cooperation with the National Park Service, MRH Elementary has taken over one of the galleries there.

The Arch Grounds Under a Dusting of Snow

The Arch Grounds Under a Dusting of Snow

The overall purpose of this project is to give the students an opportunity to explore museum functions and practices. Students in grades 2nd through 6th worked with National Park Service staff to learn more about museum functions and practices. The following three questions were posed as guidelines for this exploration:

  • How does a museum collect and protect artifacts?
  • How are museum exhibits designed?
  • What does a museum curator do?

Through a series of visits to both the Arch and the Old Courthouse, students learned about the roles and functions of museum personnel and how they preserve, exhibit, collect, interpret and document museum artifacts. These experiences tied into the actual design and development of an exhibit by each grade on a topic of their choice.

This fall Anne worked with the fourth graders. They chose to study European exploration. In this unit the students learned about European exploration in the 15th and 16th centuries. They examined artifacts, read secondary sources about different explorers and analyzed the dominate motives for European exploration.

The display they choose to share is of the inside of an explorer’s ship. This portion of the overall exhibit is intended to be walked through, as though you are actually on a ship. Once aboard this vessel, you are introduced to five explorers; you can stop and admire their portraits or stop and listen as their bust comes alive to tell you their tale. Anne is seen below, posing before the 4th grade exhibit.

Anne In Front of the 4th Grade Exhibit

Anne In Front of the 4th Grade Exhibit

After the Arch, we walked over to Laclede’s Landing. Once, a warehouse district, it is situated along the Mississippi, just north of the Arch grounds. It is now a restaurant and entertainment district and we headed to one of the older establishments there, Hannegan’s. Named for Robert Hannegan, a Saint Louis politician, Hannegan’s interior decor is modeled after the US Senate’s dining room.

I don’t know what the connection between Hannegan’s the restaurant and Hannegan the politician is, except that there are some of Bob Hannegan’s artifacts on display in the restaurant. The most interesting one that I saw was a letter to Hannegan from FDR saying that he would be happy to run with Hannegan’s suggested running mate, Harry S Truman. Hannegan was the Democratic chairman in 1944. Then we sent Rey on his way back to Tennessee.

Ladybug! Ladybug!

Ladybug! Ladybug!
Fly away home.
Your house is on fire.
And your children all gone

All except one,
And that’s little Anne,
For she crept under
The frying pan

The preceding rhyme is the Americanized version of the traditional English verse, which dates from at least the mid-18th century. In the English version, the American Ladybugs become Ladybirds. They are also sometimes called Doodlebugs, but that is another story. The second verse is new to me, but maybe some of you were already aware of it? Ladybug or Ladybird, these brightly colored insects are commonly viewed as being lucky. This being a Friday the 13th, it seemed appropriate to broach the subjects of luck and superstition. The following explanation of the Ladybug beliefs comes from Wiki.

There were superstitious beliefs that it was unlucky to kill a Ladybug, and that the verse would make them fly off. Another superstition states that you should chant the verse if a Ladybug lands on you: if it then flies away again, your wish will come true. Ladybugs are useful as eaters of aphids, which would otherwise damage plants. They can also be a nuisance, but there would be logic from a farmer or gardener’s viewpoint in trying to shoo them away rather than kill them. This could be the rational basis for teaching children to respect them.

The photograph with this post was taken far from home. This picture captured only a fraction of the hundreds of Ladybugs that were crawling all over this split rail fence. We found them, years ago, in a Redwood grove, just north of Santa Cruz, CA.

Ladybug! Ladybug! Post

The motivation for this post comes from a real house fire that occurred in neighboring Maplewood. At the intersection of Sutton and Flora stood a three-story, Victorian house, a home, a dentist’s office and a local landmark. It caught on fire last night, was thought to have been put out, but reignited this morning. Anne heard that the roof had collapsed, so I can only surmise that it is a total loss. Fortunately, no one was home to be hurt. The fire is believed to be accidental. While we have no personal connection with this building, we have seen it many times and appreciated the beauty of its architecture.

Closer to home, where Laclede Station Road passes underneath the New I-64 and soon becomes Wise, an armed robbery occurred this week. An MRH student was robbed at gunpoint by two men, who were driving a Grand Marquis [no relation]. The robbery occurred on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Anne walked through this area, twice. We learned of the crime on Thursday and were understandably distressed. This is the second major crime to occur within “spitting distance” of our house, within a month.

Finally, Dr. Linda Henke, superintendent of the MRH School District announced her retirement, at the end of this semester. They say that bad luck runs in threes, and Dr. Henke’s retirement is bad luck for MRH, but as someone who can see the light of retirement at the end of the tunnel, I can only wish her the best of luck. She has been superintendent for twelve years and has successfully transformed the school district from one that was in trouble to one that we can all be proud of. Good luck, Linda!

Climbing Trees For Learning

Climb a tree – it gets you closer to heaven. ~Author Unknown

The picture shows several middle school students getting ready to climb the large oak tree across from the school.  Many students signed up for an after-school activity sponsored by the school.  Monday night, when I came out of the school building, there was a man with a hard hat throwing ropes over the branches.  I worriedly asked him if they were going to take the tree down.  Recent events, [our storm damage] may have colored my reaction! 😆  He explained that he was setting the lines that the middle school students would use the next day.  The middle school is structured according to the metaphor, School as Expedition, with the motto, “We are Crew, not Passengers”. This activity was another chance to find another perspective via travel to a different place, or as might be, a different branch.  Don’t you wish your middle school, (or junior high) had offered opportunities like this?

Anne authored the bulk of this post, the paragraph and the picture above. I do have one school related item to add, a joke. Originally, it was a New Yorker cartoon, so let’s see how well it translates from the visual cartoon form to words. Entitled, “Parent – Janitor Conference”, imagine a scene in the school’s boiler room. Two parents sit opposite the school’s janitor who gives them the bad news, “Your kid throws up a lot.” I’m guessing the original was better?