Praise for Young Chautauqua

Brooke Tolmachoff, a teacher at Mountain Range High School, describes her Young Chautauqua experience:

"The students who have responded the most to this process are not just the 'A' students. Many students have seen this as an opportunity to voice and express parts of history that are often untold and to share something about themselves. One student, Michael, who selected Corky Gonzales, became truly interested in both the history of the Latino Movement and the current movement, and registered for the La Raza Youth Conference. Students have the opportunity to perform in front of others. It builds a sense of community in the classroom. Young Chautauqua teaches them about an important individual."

Susan Hall, a teacher at Wingate Elementary, describes her Young Chautauqua experience:

"When we first were looking for funds to do this program, it was suggested to us that we should do it with gifted/talented students only, but I have seen students with learning or speech disabilities excel. Students from lower socio-economic situations have less advantage in terms of overall research, but a great wealth of experience from which to draw as they connect to hardship, the importance of self reliance, and how political and cultural factors can affect one's life. Students who find seat work difficult can also be highly motivated to participate because of the acting and physical aspects of this project. In my mind, the integration of literacy concepts, history, and the performing arts is vital to being educated-rather than just schooled. Students are now asking more questions during their literature groups that relate to political and historical influences on cultures. They are reading more deeply, into character, and are recognizing how authors help readers understand characters indirectly, as well as directly."

Susan Hall gives specifics about individual students who participated:

"Rachel (as Baby Doe Tabor) was very enchanted with the dramatics and costume and with being a rich, wealthy, and beautiful woman. She accented these qualities throughout her talk and refused to speak from the point in her life AFTER she lost her money. She has done some reflection since the performances and has commented on the impact of those who included their hardships as part of their narrative."

"Katie (as Doc Susie) rarely speaks in the large class. Throughout the process, she avoided practicing in front of others. Even at dress rehearsal she was restrained. The day of the performance, she walked on, took charge of her audience with her eyes and body language, and knocked our socks off! Her voice was strong; she had written her stories beautifully with such fluency and description, and she was extremely convincing. Her mom later said that she would not sign Katie up for other summer activities until she knew for sure about YC."

"Freddy (as Alfred Packer) whose speech patterns have not yet developed the 'r's' was chosen to present for all the fourth and third graders at our 'People's Choice' assembly. When I asked him if he would be OK with performing, his eyes got huge and he said 'I'd love to. They want me to perform?" This is a case of a student who is extremely creative and intelligent, whose family is very gifted in the dramatic arts and who isn't noticed by his peers for his talents. Freddy even wrote a piece following that about 'my most interesting day at school.'"