From a January 23, 2020, Everett Public Schools news release.
Cascade High school students created stuffed “creatures” for Emerson Elementary School buddies.
The Creature Collaboration Project, brainchild of Jennifer Himstedt, English teacher at Cascade High School, began in summer 2019 with lots of coordination. Her senior students were studying Frankenstein while Emerson Elementary first-grade students were reading from a selection of books with creatures.
All students were involved with reading, writing, reflecting and classroom discussions around their texts and Himstedt set out to connect the older and younger students through a shared experience.
The project began with Himstedt's students putting their crafting skills to use by sewing creatures from a kit. Pictures of the creatures were provided to the first-grade students to help inspire them while they wrote a creature story of their own. The high school “buddies” then visited Emerson and gave the creatures to the first graders. The buddies used their district laptop devices to take selfies and record videos of the Emerson students reading their creature stories aloud.
“The first graders were so proud of the stories they wrote, and the high schoolers really honored their hard work,” shared Maggie Doud, teacher librarian at Emerson.
“I overheard one high school student saying, ‘You wrote a really good story.’ You should have seen that first grader beaming!”
Cascade senior Alejandro Garcia-Guzman said, “Interacting with the kids on a personal level was awesome.”
Senior Edward Loing noted, “It was great building bonds and inspiring the younger generation.”
“It was cool to be able to relate and remember being their age,” added Tekhia Jones, also a senior.
“The Emerson/Cascade creature story project warmed my heart,” shared Dr. Sally Lancaster, regional superintendent. “Love the smiles!”
Instructional Tech Facilitator Jennifer Russell was inspired by the, “Amazing collaboration that included reading, writing, discussion, creating video posts and even a little sewing!”
Himstedt noted, “It was a ton of work to prepare, but seeing the photos and hearing my students’ experiences with the whole thing from start to finish made it all worth it. I have to say thank you to the Cascade Bruin Community Parents as well for providing the funds and Cascade High Teacher Librarian, Amalia Pimenta for all the help as well!”