Tuesday, April 30, 2013

PdC High School Actors & 4th Grade Classes Team Up With Sculpture Park

The Sculpture Park is where fine art brings history to life near the confluence of the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers. Life-sized bronze figures from the pages of history and prehistory gather together near the central fire circle, as if meeting for a present day rendezvous. Already installed are: Chief Blackhawk, Dr. Beaumont and son Israel, Victorian Lady, The Voyageur, and Emma Big Bear. As guests visit and revisit, they will learn of the stories and lives of the men and women who shaped the Upper Mississippi River Valley on the land now called Prairie du Chien.
Each year, 4th graders at Bluffview Elementary participate in a unit on Prairie du Chien history. They are also required to do a report on historical figures as part of their 4th grade curriculum. Their studies and research culminates with a May field trip to tour the Villa Louis mansion and grounds. Thanks to several industrious teachers, the field trip this year will be expanded to include a tour of the Mississippi River Sculpture Park. Cindy Hertrampf, a retired teacher from the area (who also serves on the Sculpture Park event committee) and teacher Mary Gasser (along with her other three 4th grade team teachers) collaborated and created an opportunity for all 4th grade students to engage in an interactive educational experience that will not only increase their knowledge base, but also help each one learn more information for his/her required class report. Each 4th grader will be required to choose (as a topic for his/her report) a historical figure from the Sculpture Park’s current and upcoming future statues that are either there now or are planned for installation in the time to come.  
Teaming up with the event committee is Luana Stiemke (PdC Parks and Recreation drama teacher,) who has tirelessly put together a team of students and other local talent to “act-out” vignettes written by the committee that tie in historical facts about the statues themselves. Costumed local high school students and area actors will bring these current and future statues “to life” by telling stories about each one’s historical impact on southwest Wisconsin and northeast Iowa. These “live statues” will do this by telling tales about the discovery and development of this critical rendezvous area we all know as St. Feriole Island in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin.
This is the first event of its kind in this area…and it is also being tied-in as a fundraiser to “bring to life” Marianne Labuche (pronounced “La-BOOSH”), Wisconsin’s first doctor. Labuche was a local healer known as “Aunt Mary Ann” by her faithful followers in the early 1800s. Labuche’s living statue will be roaming around during the event telling tales about her life and work. Visitors' generous donations will be gladly accepted to help give Marianne Labuche's bronze life-sized statue a permanent home in the park.

The event is FREE and open to all families and the general public on both sides of the mighty Mississippi. “Twilight of the Living Statues” will be held on Sunday, May 5, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Mississippi River Sculpture Park across the street from the Villa Louis mansion. Bluffview 4th grade children are strongly encouraged and are invited to bring their families along down to the Sculpture Park to learn additional information for their upcoming reports. In addition, they are able to participate in the “living history” as well as receive a token for attending. On the Monday after the event, those students with tokens earned from their participation in this event will be invited to fill out a three-question survey reflecting on their experiences at the Mississippi River Sculpture Park event. Some of those wonderful 4th grade “insights” from the upcoming surveys are planning to be published in an upcoming Courier Press issue. This way, we can all enjoy and all learn from our local 4th grade reporters. 

Visitors are invited to bring their own snacks or beverages so they can picnic in the Sculpture Park while listening to live music and enjoying the vignettes. A fire will be constantly burning in the central ‘Fire Circle,’ which is outlined with bronze symbols of the ancient peoples who occupied this rendezvous area over the past 10,000 years. In addition to costumed actors, board members and volunteers will be dressed in historic-style clothing as well. Visitors are encouraged to get into the “spirit” and come dressed as their favorite historical figure or persona if they wish. 

Should Sunday, May 5th prove to be too rainy for this outdoor event, the rain date will be Saturday, May 11th (the day before Mother’s Day). For more information, contact Sculpture Park board president Rogeta Halvorson at RAHalvorson@alpinecom.net or 563-880-9190.

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