Seymour Schools Folklife Residences (1999-2000)
First Lady Judy O'Bannon signs the Cortland Elementary School quilt block she made while her assistant looks on. Photo by Erin Roth.

Fiddle player Cameron Howard is backed up on guitar by Molly Harris while they play for one of Jackson Elementary's fourth-grade classes. Photo by Gregory Hansen.
The Southern Indiana Arts Center of Seymour collaborated with TAI to sponsor one-week folklorist residencies for fourth graders with five Seymour elementary schools. Gregory Hansen and Erin Roth provided five 45-minute sessions in each of the classrooms where students were introduced to the ideas of tradition, community, folklore, folklife, and fieldwork.The purpose of the unit was to enrich fourth grade social studies and language arts curriculum. The first three days included some of the following topics: family folklore, naming traditions, family recipes, local traditional arts and music, cultural diversity in Jackson County, etc. A slide show of local traditional artists introduced the unit. The fourth and fifth days, artists from the community visited the classroom to perform or demonstrate their tradition. Students were encouraged to learn by trying their hand at making a quilt block or singing a song. Artists included a woodcarver, quilter, weaver, fiddler, bluegrass musician, and mariachi band. Each of the artists was compensated for their presentations

Running concurrent with the folklife unit, Cortland Elementary made a school-wide quilt, a Cortland Elementary tradition started in 1994. Each student, teacher, and employee designed his/her own block to add to the quilt. Local volunteers from Borcher Lutheran Church provided the quilting and Seymour quilter Cindy Claycamp pieced the quilt. Cortland Elementary has also been a part of a historic preservation effort to save the nearby covered bridge that spans the East Fork White River. Traditional Arts Indiana's week-long residency was a part of Cortland Elementary's effort to celebrate local traditions and heritage. First Lady Judy O'Bannon made her own quilt block and attended a quilt dedication ceremony where she signed her block.

This educational project was sponsored by Southern Indiana Center for the Arts, Cinergy, John Mellencamp Fan Club, TAI, IAC, and NEA.

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