March 26, 2004
Thanks to the generosity of the Maine Community Foundation and others, Valley elementary and secondary school students will learn about the founding of Acadia - four hundred years ago this June - through a trunk filled with maps, artifacts and activities.
The trunk was produced by the US National Park Service staff at Acadia National Park to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the first French settlement in North America, at St. Croix Island in1604. Located in Calais, Maine, St. Croix Island became a National Historic Site in 1949, and in 1984 was re-designated by Congress as an International Historic Site.
The trunk contains 30 items, including maps and journal excerpts from 1604, a beaver pelt, footwear and drinking vessels typical of the period, native language recordings and a videotape adventure. The written materials and teacher's guide are in both English and French.
The Maine Community Foundation's Aroostook County Fund has sponsored five St. Croix trunks for Valley school districts. Marilyn J. Chase, a representative of the Aroostook County Fund, attended the opening of the UMFK workshop and expressed her enthusiasm for the trunks and her hopes that programs about these trunks could be organized for members of the community as well as the schools.
The US-Canada International Joint Commission sponsored two additional trunks.
Fifty-six participants took part in the two workshops.
"We are delighted that so many valley teachers attended these workshops," said Lisa Ornstein, director of the Acadian Archives and University of Maine System representative of the Maine Acadian Heritage Council. "The Maine Acadian Heritage Council's Education Resource Development Committee did a fantastic job of working with the school districts to ensure a good turnout," she added.
Meg Scheid, Park Ranger from Acadia National Park, conducted two consecutive workshops this week for Valley teachers who will use the 1604 trunks. Both workshops were sponsored by: Acadia National Park, the Maine Acadian Heritage Council, and the University of Maine at Fort Kent's Acadian Archives and Academic Outreach Program. The first workshop was held at the Madawaska High School, and the second at the University of Maine at Fort Kent.
"Teacher's who attended the workshops," Scheid said, "were truly psyched!"
Participants got a real snap-shot of the story of St. Croix Island through a hands-on presentation where Scheid coaxed them into a little fun with unexpected role-playing.
In small groups, teachers investigated items and activities contained in the trunk, reporting to the larger group their findings.
"The teachers went home with "real-time" teaching tools and a much greater understanding of the significance of St. Croix Island to all Acadians and the beginning of permanent French culture in North America," said Scheid.
The 3-hour workshop was video taped in hopes of providing a training video for future users of the St. Croix 1604 Trunk.