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Monday, April 22, 2013 01:23 pm

Storytelling program enraptures kids

Storytelling_4.jpg

Storyteller Linda Gorham and the kids of St. Patrick Catholic School (Photo courtesy Jessica Wilmarth, Development Director for St. Patrick Catholic School)

This morning the entire student body of St. Patrick Catholic School (100 students, pre-K through 5th grade) got to transform en masse into an overbearing bear, a sassy chipmunk, and a menagerie of other restless animals as well as the very sky itself. The alchemist responsible for these unlikely transformations was professional storyteller Linda Gorham, who performed at the school as part of a program funded by the Springfield Area Arts Council.

Gorham expertly commanded the attention of the youthful group with respect and engagement and was greeted with enthusiasm. For their part, the kids eagerly obliged in acting out parts of the lively multicultural stories (one each of Native American and West African provenance, with one original story of Gorham's own) . The sense of enjoyment and discovery in the room was palpable, and afterwards, Gorham was able to build on that fun and wonder with workshops for the 4th and 5th graders.

St. Patrick primarily serves low-income minority students who tend to receive extremely limited access to the arts. The storytelling program is being administered as a way to remedy this. Sheila Walk of the Arts Council explains that through storytelling, vocabulary can be built more effectively than merely by the rote leaning of lists of words. "Context is really important," she says.

Judging from the joyful looks on the faces of the kids during Gorham's presentation, these words and ideas will be with them all for a long time to come.

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