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    Sand Point Students Take the Lead Honoring Indigenous Legend
    Posted on 06/22/2018
    Student art work of salmon

    Sand Point Students Take the Lead Honoring Indigenous Legend

    “The things that we do on land affect the things that live in the water.” This poignant message was the underlying thread of hope presented by the youth of Sand Point Elementary at their production of “Salmon Boy.”

    On June 3 in the auditorium of Eckstein Middle School, the culminating work of the full Sand Point Elementary school body was on display during a night of singing, dancing and storytelling to bring the legend of the “Salmon Boy” to life.

    The parable tells the tale of a strong-willed young boy who is transformed into a salmon and through his experience, learns respect for the salmon, the need for stewardship of nature and all that resides within it. In their production, groups of students acted out the legend, integrated performances of modern melodies and kept the rhythm strong through drum accompaniment.

    The schoolwide musical collaboration, the first of its kind for Sand Point Elementary, employed the school’s Huchoosedah Native Student After School Program, educators, teaching artists, PTA and students.

    In the fall of 2017, teaching artist Fern Renville led the Sand Point school community by sharing the Indigenous Knowledge, told since time immemorial, of “Salmon Boy” in the Huchoosedah after-school program. The learning wave spread across the school, integrating into teachers’ curriculum until all Sand Point students knew the lesson.

    Renville says of her teaching experience, "To witness an entire elementary school become fluent in a foundational story of Coast Salish culture and show respect for the teachings of the Salmon People is to witness a tectonic cultural shift towards an understanding of Native people and sovereignty as contemporary, intersectional and vital to an American education; this gives me such faith!”

    Through a schoolwide integration of the Native story of “Salmon Boy,” Sand Point students worked collaboratively across grade levels and were given space to shape the show in their vision. Second-grade student Jonah reflected on his participation, “I learned that not one person can do whatever they want. We have to work together.”

    Sand Point school counselor Bryan Manzo shared the impact of “Salmon Boy” on student learning. “[Students] seeing themselves as relevant, connected, and collaborative allowed for the practice of the Social Emotional Learning (SEL) skills of self-efficacy (the ability to motivate oneself, persevere and see oneself as capable),” he said.

    The Sand Point Elementary production of “Salmon Boy” highlights Seattle Public Schools’ commitment to positive, inclusive learning environments that support belonging and identity safety. Huchoosedah Native Education Parent Advisory Committee Vice President and Sand Point parent, Chandra Hampson, said, “It was a vibrant, celebratory vehicle for each student to understand the importance of their own story and voice. Critically, ownership of this telling was done such that it further supported the identity safety of our Native students, who now feel less invisible. I hope this is the beginning of more storytelling like this.”

    Read more about Huchoosedah Indian Education.

    Read more about our work to ensure educational excellence for all students and eliminate opportunity gaps.

    Read more about Sand Point Elementary.