The students of Georgia Park Elementary have been celebrating nature all year in their classes, and last week they got to sing all about it with the help of some special guests.
Holly Arntzen and Kevin Wright were touring again this year with their band, The Wilds Band. They were hitting only seven schools, Georgia Park being one of them, for their Rock The Salish Sea Tour, 2016.
In a style that can only be called “eco rock,” Arntzen and Wright shed light on issues in our marine environment by celebrating all that is good in it. The songs sung by the children ranged in topics from composting to salmon spawning to resource management practices and, most importantly, what we can all do to help keep our world healthy and vibrant for future generations.
Principal of Georgia Park, Kim Paddington, says she jumped at the opportunity to host the event as soon as it popped into her inbox from district superintendent Tom Longridge.
Timing is everything, sometimes, and she just happened to be sitting at her computer when the email came in saying there was this opportunity and Paddington immediately replied, being quicker than at least three other schools in the district who said they would also welcome the event, she says.
“I think the big win for us was that it connected to our year-long theme,” Paddington says. “Throughout the year, throughout the school, we’ve had this ethnobotany theme, and linking it to Aboriginal studies, and that’s gone right from September to now,” she says, so this concert is kind of like the culmination of all that learning – getting to sing about the things they’ve been learning about all year.
So once they were on board, Arntzen and Wright sent the songbooks along and the school’s music teacher, David Howell, taught those songs to the children over the course of about three months. Then Arntzen and Wright showed up to hone the songs a bit and work with the kids on the movements and dances for a week before Friday’s show.
They also selected students to introduce the songs in their own words, telling the audience what the song meant to them and why they thought the idea behind the song is important.
And their introductions weren’t just, “I like it because it’s a happy song,” kind of thoughts.
“They’re thorough and they’re in-depth,” Paddington says, “because they’ve had this integrated study that’s gone on throughout the year. It’s been a great journey for the kids.”
Georgia Park was the final stop on this year’s tour after they visited schools in Nanaimo, Duncan, Powell River, Vancouver, North Vancouver and Victoria.