Dear families and teachers,

Happy April! These past weeks, Story Lab students have been busy creating their own worlds!

Artist in residence Michelle Kuen Suet Fung, a visual artist based in Hong Kong, led workshops with our middle school program and with the SEER School. She has spent the past year inventing a futuristic dystopian world called “Polluta,” a collection of floating artist colonies in China in 2084. China has converted its pollution into bricks to create these cities, which float at 10,000 feet in the air and are accessible by red-bean stalk. Each “Polluta” residency has apartments for the artists, an amusement park, a library through the National Library of China, and free WiFi filtered by the Ministry of Technology. Oh, and any necessary supplies are delivered by flying elephants.

Michelle invited students to design their own “Pollutas.” She showed us basic drawing techniques, such as blending colors using colored pencils and taking advantage of the textures of various writing surfaces. Then she set us loose. We went wild! At the SEER School, students sketched everything from a ferris wheel to greet the residents to runways for the flying elephants. Michelle will use these designs to inspire her own sketches!

Elementary school students invented their own countries last week! Logan established a dictatorship, under his rule, called “Chezy Land,” made entirely of cheese. It is divided into four states – “Cheese State, “State Cheese,” “Chez State” (which includes cities like “Supa Cheese” and Sitka) and “Stinky State” (which includes “Pitsburg”). Residents are banned by law to eat the creamy delicious world that surrounds them, but they can eat the bridges, which are made out of noodles that can be dipped in the rivers of melted cheese. The only other laws are: “one day a week of school,” and “no being mean.”

With Rebecca Himschoot at Keet Gooshi Heen, I have begun working with the 4th and 5th grade gifted and talented students. The 4th grade is doing a six-week long unit on haiku, aiming to go beyond “5-7-5” to delve deeply into the conventions of Japanese haiku and to learn about the Buddhist philosophy behind haiku. We sat on a dry grassy hill, and students wrote haiku in the style of Matsuo Basho, who created the style. The 5th grade will be working on “This I Believe” essays for seven weeks, at the end of which each student will have written a persuasive essay on something they believe in strongly. They discussed ethical dilemmas that could happen to students; for instance, “what do you do when a teacher accidentally gives you a higher grade than you deserved? Do you tell him/her?” They considered all the possibilities and gave various thoughtful answers. I’m really excited to continue working with my first classes at KGH! 

Finally, our Pacific High students put up their artwork at Homeport Eatery for the Art Walk on Friday night! They created a space full of punchy street art. I was excited to hang them on the walls, and have them participate in a Sitka tradition.

Story Lab hosts free, after-school creative writing and storytelling classes to students ages 7-19. Registration is rolling, and all students are welcome! Elementary school sessions meet every other Tuesday 3:00-4:30, middle school every Wednesday 3:30-5:00, and high school every Friday 4:40-6:00. For questions, contact the number above or