"River of Words 2017" unveiled

"River of Words 2017" unveiled
Posted on 04/06/2017
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Thursday, April 6, 2017


Art, science lessons merge as students create

and sell annual ‘River of Words’ publication


BEAUFORT – The complex ecology and peaceful beauty of Port Royal Sound serves as the inspiration for a new collection of art and poetry by Beaufort County School District students.


“River of Words:  Musings on Port Royal Sound through Poetry and Art 2017,” was unveiled at a reception tonight at the Port Royal Maritime Center. The annual student publication is the culmination of an interdisciplinary learning experience about the sound’s watersheds.


“We live in an extraordinary landscape,” said Heather Brabham, the project’s coordinator.  “‘River of Words’ lets teachers and students become an active part of that environment, learn from it and be inspired by it.  The creativity of our students is really amazing.”


Brabham said that first- through 12th-grade students from 17 district schools accepted the “River of Words” challenge last fall to extend learning beyond their classroom walls and into neighboring marshes, beaches and maritime forests.  Science, English language arts, math, gifted and talented and visual arts teachers joined forces to design interdisciplinary units of study that examined local watersheds from multiple perspectives.


Students and teachers equipped with binoculars, cameras and sketchbooks experienced first-hand the intricate ecology of Port Royal Sound.  They tested water quality, studied stormwater run-off and discussed the effects of pollution and population growth. They kayaked in area rivers, embarked on virtual field trips, toured the Port Royal Sound Foundation Maritime Center and explored the Lowcountry’s natural history and cultural heritage at Coastal Discovery Museum. 


Brabham said that while students observed, measured, tested, researched and documented, they also heightened their senses and attuned them to the sights, sounds and smells of the natural world. Following their scientific discoveries, students were charged to transform their new knowledge into poems and art.  “River of Words” was the result.


Now in its seventh year, “River of Words” enables students to use humor and haiku, free verse, figurative language, vivid vocabularies and heartfelt advocacy along with paint, pencil and digital images to demonstrate their understanding of Port Royal Sound and to make their voices heard.


This year’s cover art, a painting of a pelican, was created by fifth-grader Julianna Vega from Hilton Head Island School for the Creative Arts.


Participating schools this year were: Battery Creek High, Beaufort Middle, Bluffton Middle, Hilton Head Island Elementary, Hilton Head Island School for the Creative Arts, H.E. McCracken Middle, Joseph S. Shanklin Elementary, Mossy Oaks Elementary, May River High, Okatie Elementary, Pritchardville Elementary, Red Cedar Elementary, Riverview Charter, River Ridge Academy, Robert Smalls International Academy, Michael C. Riley Elementary and Whale Branch Middle. 


Brabham thanked the environmental organizations that taught students and teachers to examine and respect the uniqueness of the Port Royal ecosystem, as well as the local artists who helped students merge science and art into the book.  Brabham also thanked the Port Royal Sound Foundation for helping to fund the project.


“River of Words” can be purchased online for $15 by visiting amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com. and typing “River of Words” into the search engine.