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Keenan Schember

Sophomore Tia Sposito shows her friend from the Jones-Harrison Senior Livng Center specific motions for the dance.

Students attend a three day field trip to Jones-Harrison Senior Facility

March 30, 2016

A typical English class consists of reading, writing, and perhaps the occasional discussion. Each class is usually a continuation of the last with a cycle of reading, quizzes, reading, tests, repeat; however, 10th and 11th grade English teacher, Ms. Kari Koshiol, is over the repetitive cycle and took her 10th grade English class to Jones-Harrison Senior Living for a field trip combining storytelling, bridging the generation gap, and dancing.

On March 7, 8, and 9, the 10th grade class left school for one and a half hours to visit the residents of Jones Harrison Senior Living in Minneapolis.

Each day focused on a different activity, but worked toward the final goal. “The goals are three fold: give the folks at Jones-Harrison a chance to move and be active, give everyone the chance to talk and tell their story, and we plan to create something to give back to the residents of Jones-Harrison,” Koshiol said.

These three goals are all connected to the book “Maus”, by Art Spiegelman, which is a part of 10th grade English curriculum. It is designed to spread stories and history. The students tell the residents about their lives, and the residents share their life experiences and advice. “Maus is about Artie talking to his dad and learning and telling his story in a creative manner, so the project is inspired by that,” Koshiol said.

Each day two students were paired with one resident. The partnerships participated in a variety of activities involving dance. For the final performance, all of the choreography was collected into a single piece of modern dance. “On the last day we put all of the movements together. It was kind of like a dance, but it was more organized chaos,” sophomore Tia Sposito said.

The connection to modern dance began last year after Koshiol expressed interest in a large, storytelling project. “I mentioned to Ms. Lenhart-Murphy that I was thinking about doing a project involving interviews, and she had the connection with Arena Dance,” Koshiol said.

“We chat about our lives and compare and contrast.Then we develop a little dance from those connections.”

— Koshiol

Arena Dance Studio partnered with the Jones-Harrison Senior Living and BSM to foster the project. They provided instructors to teach the students and the residents different dance steps. The final product was a modern dance that showed the experience everyone had creating the project. It told the story that the students found in their resident.

This forced the groups to interact and learn together through interviews and dance. “We chat about our lives and compare and contrast. Then we develop a little dance from those connections. We are also learning about how choreographers create meaning through dance,” Koshiol said.

Due to the limited movement many residents of Jones-Harrison have, the steps in the dance were inclusive to people with different levels of mobility. However, that did not mean it was void of meaning. “We created a ‘path’ of our experiences, and for the last day we walked the path. It could be a metaphor for the journey of life,” Sposito said.

The final piece of the field trip was for each student to create a project of their own design to give as a gift to the resident they worked with. This is not only a final reflection for the student, but a meaningful gift for their partner at Jones-Harrison. “I had an idea and started [my project] already. It’s going to be a painting of [the woman I worked with],” Sposito said.

This year was the first time a BSM class tried this field trip, but the connections students made are worthwhile despite defying the stereotypical English cycle. “[The project] is about forming a bond with people who live differently than us. It was cool to compare our lives. A lot of families used to live simply, but today it seems very complicated and over scheduled. It was very valuable to hear their perspectives,” Sposito said.

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