Dragons are singing at Northport Elementary in Brooklyn Center

6:50 AM, Apr 12, 2012   |    comments
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Northport Elementary Students combine art and culture

BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. -- Students huddle around scraps of brightly-colored paper, pipe cleaners and feathers.  Before them are dragon bodies created from plastic bottles, and 4th grade imagination.

"It's an opportunity for our kids to, one, enhance their art experience," said principal Patrick Smith, who says the other component of this experience is culture.  

"With it being the year of the dragon, for our students to really be able to dive into another culture and learn some wonderful things that they might not know about."

With the help of a grant from the Minnesota State Arts board, the school has teamed with composer Laurie MacGregor, Tigerland Arts, Heart of the Beast Puppet Theatre and Puppet Farm Arts for a residency that will stretch into May.

MacGregor has greated a song cycle as a companion to Jack Prelutsky's book of poems, "The Dragons are Singing Tonight."

Northport students will join with students in Minneapolis for a concert in May.  In the meantime, Northport students are also working on dragon puppets, large and small for a parade this spring at the school.

"Some students are good in math, some kids are good in reading," said English language teacher Sue Olsen, who believes the residency is a perfect opportunity for children to express themselves through music and art, perhaps shining a light on talents they don't often get to show off.

Students also get to work with artists and musicians as they learn about a culture half a world away.

"It just opens up our doors so that our classroom isn't just with four walls," explained Smith.  "It really spreads out into the whole world."

(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All rights reserved.)

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