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Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • The Right Fit For Me: Student Songwriters Thrive at Washington School

  • Pete Seeger, Lee Hays, Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan have all influenced artist in residence Charlie Maguire in one way or another, either directly or indirectly, and now, these internationally famous folk and rock icons are influencing young Crookston songwriters at Washington school. For Crookston kids, it is a direct connection to some of the best, most creative songwriting minds of the folk and folk rock generation.
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  • Pete Seeger, Lee Hays, Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan have all influenced artist in residence Charlie Maguire in one way or another, either directly or indirectly, and now, these internationally famous folk and rock icons are influencing young Crookston songwriters at Washington school. For Crookston kids, it is a direct connection to some of the best, most creative songwriting minds of the folk and folk rock generation.
    Not surprisingly, all this is made possible through the local efforts of Jim Kent and Dale Knotek working with PFAB (Pirate Fine Arts Boosters.) The funding agencies were the Northwest Minnesota Arts Council and COMPAS (Community Programs in the Arts.) According to the literature from COMPAS: "for more than thirty years, COMPAS has published this book of the best writing by elementary and secondary students."
    Do you know where the animals live?
    The animals live, the animals live
    Do you know where the animals live?
    All around the world?
    Down on the ocean, down on the farm
    Down in a cage, or in a barn
    Down in the zoo, or a hollow log
    Or just at home like your dog.
    (Meyer's class 2014)
    Minnesota songwriter and folk performer, Charlie Maguire's three residencies occurred in 2011, 2012, and 2013, and each lasted only a week, but the effects on Washington school's young songwriters and their teachers are still going strong. For example, one song written by Stacy Flikka's class from 2011 has been published in a statewide journal, "The Compass Student Anthology," which celebrates the best writing by Minnesota students. Another song, authored by Emily Meyer's class this year is being considered for future publication.
    In addition, Miss Flikka's former class has been invited to the 2011-2013 COMPAS Student Anthology Celebration and Reading in St. Paul, on Saturday, December 14.
    All in all, Maguire has been in Crookston 3 times, coming into contact with fourteen first grade classes over the years, and influencing about three hundred students. Although the format has changed a bit over the years, the residencies end with a song produced from each of the classes involved.
    I am like a tree
    If you don't believe come see
    My roots keep me in the ground
    You can see them all around
    Way down deep they go down
    I am like a tree.
    I am like a tree
    If you don't believe come see
    My trunk keeps me straight and tall
    My rings go round it all
    That is why I'll never fall
    I am like a tree
    (Flikka's class 2011)
    Emily Meyer (2004) and Stacy Flikka (2006) are both 593 graduates, and they are just two of the Crookston educators involved with this songwriting experience. The other teachers and their principal also had a lot to say about the experience.
    Page 2 of 2 - According to Denice Oliver, veteran principal of Washington, "These artistic experiences peak interests in our students and give them an opportunity to participate in creating and performing a work of art that is unique, special and meaningful to them."
    Megan Parenteau adds that "Charlie always does such a good job with our students. He relates to them and makes it such an enjoyable experience for them. I had a parent share with me that Charlie is all her daughter has talked about for the past week! She is so excited that our students get such rich experiences here at Crookston.
    Cindy Gregg, another first grade teacher, said "Before Charlie came, our class decided on what theme they wanted to sing about. They picked "snow." From there we created a word web and put everything we like to do in the snow. We created this word web so we had ideas when writing the actual song.
    Flikka stated that "When Charlie visits my classroom an eruption of musical delight fills the atmosphere." She goes on to say "I had so many students that were excited to share with Charlie that they had tried playing the spoons at home. I also had a student bring in spoons from home to play with Charlie. A student also brought in a harmonica."
    Meyer added that, "We really enjoy all of Charlie's musical talents and the song writing skills that he helps to install in our students. It is always such a great experience having Charlie in Crookston."
    If you are interested in experiencing first hand this path of creativity that leads from Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan through Charlie Maguire for yourself, you can hear the song produced by your child's class, by going to the Crookston Public Schools website at www.crookstonk12.mn.us and click on WES (Washington Elementary School) and look for the button "songwriters."
    Davidson, a retired teacher and current member of the Crookston School Board, writes "District 593: The Right Fit for Me" to emphasize some of the positive things happening in Crookston Public Schools.

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