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Published April 21, 2009, 12:00 AM

Flooding, through children's eyes

Students express their thoughts, experiences
In a hallway of Moorhead’s Park Christian School, brightly colored pictures tell the story of our region’s flood. Hand drawings, outlined and filled in with watercolors, depict the things the school’s second-graders saw and experienced.

By: Sherri Richards, INFORUM

Students express their thoughts, experiences

In a hallway of Moorhead’s Park Christian School, brightly colored pictures tell the story of our region’s flood. Hand drawings, outlined and filled in with watercolors, depict the things the school’s second-graders saw and experienced.

One student was evacuated by boat. Another was called from her home late at night. Neighbors pass sandbags to one another. A 1-ton sandbag is dropped from the sky. Water fills a girl’s basement.

Teacher Robyn Vangsnes says as students came back to school April 6, the staff talked about getting the children to talk about their experiences.

Her 20 students sat in a circle for an hour and a half, listening attentively to their classmates.

Then, they drew pictures.

“It’s a form of expression. Sometimes they can express what they’re feeling or thinking,” Vangsnes says.

The next day, the students wrote about what they drew.

“This is my house and it is flooded,” one girl wrote.

Vangsnes hung the drawings and their hand-printed descriptions outside her classroom. A passage from Psalm 29 hangs above the artwork. “The Lord sits enthroned over the flood, The Lord gives strength to his people …”

Melissa Erickson, office manager at Park Christian, has a son in the class. She thinks the art project was therapeutic for the children, and will help them move through their emotions.

“I just thought it was poignant, their pictures and the way they phrased things,” she says. “I saw they absorbed a lot more than I thought they did.”

Norman County musings

The student’s in Collete Cotton’s fourth-grade class at Norman County West Elementary in Hendrum, Minn., did a similar exercise. Some students drew pictures, others wrote stories, a couple combined approaches.

The results show the flood through their art.

Jennifer Koste, 10, of Perley wrote on March 24 “we were putting up a clay dike. I helped sandbag, pass out fliers, and bring sandbags to the dike. I was safe. … I said THANK YOU to all the National Guards.”

And Taylor Iten, 10, of Georgetown, Minn., wrote Georgetown had to build a dike around the river. “The flood was bad we couldn’t go to school for 9 days. The roads were closed everywhere. It was a bad flood of 2009.”


Readers can reach Forum reporter Sherri Richards at (701) 235-7311

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