Kelly Russell to educate Woodland Elementary students in tradition and culture

Melissa Jenkins
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The Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council has announced funding for 28 schools across the province for ArtsSmarts projects, including Woodland Elementary in Dildo.

The funding — totalling $119,598 — is being used to bring professional artists into schools in order to integrate arts activities into non-arts subjects, including social studies, history, language arts, science and other subjects. Some 3,400 students will have the opportunity to take part.

Woodland Elementary has been awarded $4,605 for its program “Music and culture are alive and well,” which will run from Feb. 19 to May 13 of this school year.

Musician and storyteller Kelly Russell, who was a member of Newfoundland performance groups Figgy Duff and The Wonderful Grand Band, has been chosen as the artist who will help the Grade 3 to 6 students at Woodland learn about culture and tradition. Russell is the son of the late Ted Russell, who wrote Tales from Pigeon Inlet.

Some 125 students will learn a number of things from Russell, including traditional dance, violin and accordion skills and participate in storytelling.

The students will receive credit for language arts and social studies courses from the program.

Some other schools that will participate include Lake Melville School in North West River, Labrador, Anthony Padden Elementary in Musgravetown, Immaculate Conception School in Colliers, St. Bonaventure’s College in St. John’s and Newtown Elementary in Mount Pearl.

Artists that will participate in other schools in the province include jazz artist Mary Barry, visual artist Jennifer Morgan, singer/songwriter Ray Lake, and musicians Jim Payne and Fergus O’Byrne, among others.

Each program will centre around each artist’s specialty, and is expected to help teach students to protect and support the culture of their communities, says Reg Winsor, executive director of the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council.

Organizations: Lake Melville School, Immaculate Conception School, Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council

Geographic location: Newfoundland, North West River, Colliers Bonaventure Mount Pearl

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