Ouzinkie grade schoolers (from left) Bosstyn Wommack, Hailee Wallace and McKayla Peterson proudly display their flags of Ouzinkie during an art and history workshop organized by the Baranov Museum. Jacob Resneck/KMXT photo
An initiative to bring Russian heritage to Kodiak’s villages is making the rounds to the rural schools. The Baranov Museum secured a grant this year for its education coordinator to teach arts and craft lessons with an historical bent to schoolchildren in each school. Last week students in Ouzinkie tried their hand at some traditional crafts and learned something about their roots in the process. KMXT’s Jacob Resneck reports.
— ouzinkie school pkg 5:04 "(nat. sound) … It’s late in the …I’m Jacob Resneck."
It’s late in the afternoon and a group of high schoolers are putting the finishing touches on their matryoshka dolls. Matryoshka or nesting dolls as they’re sometimes called are a traditional Russian craft. They’re hollow wooden dolls that are progressively smaller so they all fit inside the largest doll as a set. Then I over hear something extraordinary: high schoolers admit out loud that they’re enjoying themselves.
— amb HS recognizing matryoshka dolls
The Ouzinkie school spent three days last week on arts and crafts as part of a project to introduce Russian heritage to the rural schools. Here’s the Baranov Museum’s education coordinator Marie Acemah explaining the initiative made possible by $3,000 in grant funding.
And after three days last week with students of all ages painting their own set, Acemah tells the class how impressed she is with the results.
The younger students also have been at it. First grader Hailee Wallace lost her smallest doll but instead of despairing, she wrote a story about it.
— hailee wallace
The wooden dolls are imported from Russia. About 10 sets were used earlier this month in Chiniak. And about 30 sets were painted by students in Ouzinkie. Second grader Benita Bowden finishes her set and with a fine brush paints each one’s name in colorful lettering.
— Benita Bowden
Earlier this week the students also made scrimshaws. They were carved on plaster but evokes the practice of whale bone carving, a Native American art form. On the third day each student designed their own flag for Ouzinkie.
The school’s head teacher Gerald Sheehan says the three-day exercise taught history but also fostered expression.
K-through-fourth teacher Sally Lyons-Crocetti says this project seemed to open the eyes of the older students. And the younger ones, they enjoy using their hands to create.
Wedneday was the final day for Acemah’s visit. As the students gather before the final bell, she extends an invite for the Ouzinkie students to visit the museum the next time they visit Kodiak.
Individual pieces of art are being posted on the Baranov Museum’s Facebook page. The program continues in the fall and will include the remaining six rural schools, the order of which is still being worked out.
In Ouzinkie, I’m Jacob Resneck ###