February 22, 2008
Elementary students from grades K through 5 are flocking to the Acadian Archives/Archives Acadiennes at the University of Maine Fort Kent campus to visit the Marcella Bélanger Violette exhibit and to participate in learning activities.
Acadian Archives/Archives Acadiennes and Blake Library staff had designed four stations based on Maine’s Learning Results: Bloom where you are planted: Through the tour of the exhibit, students learned about the importance of being a responsible, involved citizen and were introduced to the idea of being a lifelong learner; Families of Yesterday and Today: Students were asked to talk with an older family member or friend, for example a grandparent, about what it was like when he/she was a child. Students then discussed what and how things have changed. They learned how history informs us about yesterday, how it helps to interpret the present, and how it helps to mold the future; Information from the Past: Students selected articles/photos from the St. John Valley Times newspaper and then shared with the group why the picture chosen was important to them and how it can be one way of capturing history; and The Acadian People: This learning station, students learned how the French settlers of the St. John Valley lived in the late 18th century. The students learned a number of French vocabulary words associated with land, farm, family, and life.
In addition to dedicating her life to helping others, Marcella Bélanger Violette took every opportunity to talk or defend her three loves: education, her valley, and her French heritage. She raised five children while she was pursuing advanced degrees. Her legacy is well reflected in the 25 scrapbooks she created, covering over 3,000 pages and spanning sixty years.
The books cover a wide range of topics including: the town of Van Buren, the St. John Valley, Franco-Americans, Acadians, bilingualism, education, politics, St. Bruno’s Church, the Good Shepherd Sisters, the Marist priests, the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, and the Violette family. Each volume is filled with photos, newspaper articles, letters, cards, telegrams, postcards, brochures, souvenirs, and other items Marcella carefully selected for inclusion.
The exhibit closely mirrors the five major themes of Marcella’s scrapbooks: the University of Maine at Fort Kent; cultural and linguistic preservation; civic responsibility; the Allagash Wilderness Waterway; and education/family/women.
The Acadian Archives/Archives Acadiennes will host the Marcella Bélanger Violette exhibit until the end of February. Acadian Archives/Archives Acadiennes Director, Lise Pelletier, is planning a presentation for grades 6,7 and 8 and for high school students, both based on the Maine Learning Results and which will take place over the course of the next few months.
The Acadian Archives/Archives Acadiennes is open Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and on weekends and week nights by appointment only. For more information about the current exhibit and upcoming events, call 834-7536 or write an e-mail to www.umfk.maine.edu/archives.