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“Swing your partner and do si do” as annual Rodeo project ends at WES

posted Apr 25, 2017, 11:13 AM by Michael Richards
Good memories have been made for students and their parents alike for almost 30 years at the annual Wells Elementary School Rodeo held this year on April 13th. 

In the gymnasium, there was fiddle, piano and banjo playing to accompany the singing, square dancing, and even a sing-along with parents over a make-believe campfire.  But behind all the smiles and fun were weeks of learning and preparation leading up to the hoedown. 

Among staff at the school, the event is formally known as the Arts Integrated Project Rodeo, a culmination of a multidisciplinary unit of study that involves art, music, history, computer science, library study and physical education.   This project involves the school’s “core” teachers coordinating with one another for 12 weeks prior to the Rodeo.

According to art teacher Sandy Brennan, students, as in past years, “dressed up as pioneers, cowboys, cowgirls, or Native Americans to sing and square dance together.  Families were invited and thoroughly enjoyed our hoedown,” commented Brennan.  

In this unit of study, second grade and multi 1 & 2 grade students study the westward expansion of America (roughly from 1840-1860) including what life was like for pioneers traversing the few routes west including the famed Oregon Trail.  Imagining themselves as pioneers, students wrote journals about their journey, designed quilt squares, and created large murals that hung in the school.  

“This year's performance was probably the best I have ever witnessed,” commented Assistant Principal Ken Spinney.  “So much movement and variety!”    Physical Education teacher Kathy Calo indicated that the crowd of parents and others attending this year’s Rodeo almost filled the gymnasium.  

Providing western-flavored music at the rodeo were Keith Fletcher on fiddle and staff members Henry Ingwersen on banjo and guitar and Karen Taylor on piano.
Students in Rodeo
Dressed in old western attire are a few of this year’s rodeo participants.  They are (from bottom left to right) Payton Maxon, Evan Suitter, Hailey Worthing, and Elliott Kennedy.  Behind Maxon is Nicholas Dardia.   All five are students of Clarrisa Sweeney.

Stage Setup
One of the murals created by students to celebrate the 2017 WES Rodeo on April 14th.
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