Seeley Swan Pathfinder -


By Andi Bourne

Happy Holidays from the Swan Valley


December 14, 2017

Jimmy Boyd

Happy Holidays from the Swan Valley School. The nearly 30 students and staff created this 640 X 457 foot greeting card in a field south of Condon Dec. 6 as a project with school board trustee Jimmy Boyd. Everyone piled on the hay wagon below the Happy Holidays sign. The photo will be used for holiday postcards for the students' families.

SWAN VALLEY – "How awesome was that?! We did it," said Boyd as the students gathered all their belongings and loaded on the hay wagon for the Holiday card photo. Swan Valley School students and staff spent the afternoon Dec. 6 packing down letters and designs in the snow in a field near Condon. They painted their 640 X 457 foot holiday card with dye and posed for a drone photo. While all agreed it was a lot of fun, they also learned a lot of practical tools and lessons throughout the project.

Each of the Swan Valley school board members are encouraged to come up with a project that they shepherd at the school. Having a degree in geography from the University of Montana, Swan Valley School Board Trustee Jimmy Boyd created the project to encourage spatial thinking and teamwork in the school.

Boyd came up with the Holiday greeting card idea because it gave a sense of urgency and could be used not only to send to parents but for the yearbook. He hopes it may become a signature project where something new and fun is done annually around the holiday season.

At first the students laid out the box on the gym floor practicing. Then they went outside at the school for the dress rehearsal so they could practice walking in the lines and not adding extra tracks in the snow.

Wednesday, Dec. 6, nearly 30 Swan Valley School students and staff gathered at a field south of Condon where they split into four quadrants. While Boyd staked out the sign using a range finder, he worked with the students using a compass to effectively communicate directions and lay out the design.

In each of the four corners were four radii, 40, 60, 80 and 100 feet long. In the center of the sign, the students stamped out 10-foot wide letters that read 'Happy Holidays.' The older students were given leadership roles in the groups.

"The best thing is the teamwork in the quadrant teams," said Boyd. "I always think it is awesome in small schools how the older kids mingle so well with the younger kids."

Supervising Teacher Susan Bracha said the project brought in new vocabulary words that many of the students had not been exposed to previously. It also incorporated math, science, technology and group dynamic skills.

"You have to coordinate with each of the groups using radios and compasses," said Bracha. "They had a lot of fun and probably don't even realize they were learning something."

One of the successes of the project that Boyd saw was it was fun and educational for all ages. While the younger students had fun playing in the snow and painting in the lines, the older students had time to work on their GPS and compass skills one-on-one with adults.

Some of the seventh-graders thought the project was going to be too challenging for some of the younger students. However, they were surprised how focused they were once they started laying it all out.

"It's a good learning experience and learning how to use a compass and how to keep your measurements right. If you don't, it screws the whole thing up," said seventh-grader Connor Matthew who thought it was fun that they were going to produce something that they could share with their family.

Seventh-grader Trista Alexander said it was empowering that the adult trusted her group to paint the letters. She thought it was a great project to learn navigation skills and how to measure things out.

"I wasn't very good with my north, south, east and west," said Alexander. "I always remembered [the directions from the saying] 'never eat soggy waffles.' Now I actually know which way it is and I'm excited."

Andi Bourne, Pathfinder

Twenty-two Swan Valley School students along with the school's teachers and staff posed on the hay wagon after finishing the sign in about three hours.

Kyla Conley liked that it was an outdoor project that incorporated science and math. She learned how to use the compass and lay out the quadrants so the Swan Mountain Range was in the background.

"I think it is cool that we can come out to one of our local's house and do something for the community," said Conley.

Seth Richardson is the sole eighth-grader at Swan Valley School. He loved how the project brought the whole school together by everyone contributing a small part to the larger project.

"I'm one of those people that like to do most of the work. I learned that you have to work together to do something big," said Richardson.

"I think it is way cool because it gets the kids out and they are learning a lot," said School Board Chair John Mercer. "This is a complicated thing they are doing. It is so big that they aren't going to be able to perceive it until they see the drone picture. Then they are going to say, wow."


Reader Comments


Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2019