by Shawna Chigro-Rogers
“Let my people go! O, let my people go!”
A young slave, Minty, pushes through the crowd. Desperate as her next of kin are auctioned off.
Everyone loves a good story and fourth graders at Yarmouth Elementary school became powerful storytellers, sharing the heroic efforts of a young teenage slave, Harriet Tubman. Through a grant by the Yarmouth Education Foundation, SPIRIT SERIES engaged students in an inspirational biography of Harriet Tubman in Freedom Train. Araminta “Minty” was born into slavery. She escaped slavery and became a conductor for the Freedom Train, risking her life with each trip to free slaves.
Betsy Lane, YES Principal, wrote, “A generous Yarmouth Education Foundation grant brought an amazing three-week learning adventure to fourth graders. For an hour each day, students immersed themselves in a world far beyond the classroom studying, co-writing, staging, and performing an inspirational one-act SPIRIT SERIES play: Freedom Train. As one student said, “It’s hard to explain how much we know now.”
SPIRIT SERIES founder, Richard Strauss, poses the question, “can the wisdom and character of great heroes from the past empower our children to meet adversity in their own lives?”
Let’s ask the children –
~”I enjoyed learning about Harriet and the Underground Railroad in a fun way and stepping into someone else’s shoes.”
~”It felt more real than it would have been just reading about it.”
From preparation to performance, SPIRIT SERIES hopes that students will “forge a positive vision for themselves, and begin to become their own heroes.”
~”I loved the feedback that Mr. K gave everyone.”
~”I enjoyed that you got to perform Freedom Train and tell the story of Harriet Tubman’s life through acting. I also liked that you didn’t have to memorize your lines by heart.”
“SPIRIT SERIES was a good experience for our students. They learned so much about our history while diving deep into these roles, while also practicing reading fluency and learning new vocabulary,” shares Cassie Fier, YES 4th grade teacher. “They recognized they learned a lot and they loved the costumes and performing in front of an audience.”