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Taking school beyond the schoolroom window

Submitted by on September 23, 2018 – 8:06 pm

David Steindorf, President of the Fort Connah Historic Restoration Society, visits with English teachers Amy McConnell and Katrina Venters, outside the oldest building in Montana built by EuroAmericans that still stands. The fort was established by the Hudson’s Bay Company and was active from 1846 to 1871. Steindorf was instrumental in the restoration project that has been ongoing for several years.

Four English teachers from Polson High School spent Saturday visiting sites and experts for possible learning expeditions for students in grades 9 and 10. Katrina Venters, Amy McConnell, Lori Dickson and Michael Umphrey visited the Ninepipes Museum, Fort Connah and the Montana Waterfowl Foundation. Sites were selected that provide resources for considering life in this valley, in the light of historical, ecological and cultural richness.

On October 10, the entire freshman class will visit these sites, along with the St. Ignatius Mission, McDonald Lake, the D’Arcy McNickle homesite and possibly others, as time permits. The English Department is spending first quarter doing place-based learning. All students 9-11 are reading Wind from an Enemy Sky, a novel by local author D’Arcy McNickle (a contributor to the Native American Renaissance in the 1970s) and a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. The book is based on early reservation history here.

Various classes are engaged in extension activities that take several approaches to researching the past and present of the Mission Valley. For example, the entire junior class attended the Lake Honoring at Yellow Bay and Blue Bay, hosted by the Tribes, the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks, and the Yellow Bay Biological Field Station. The will follow up with individual research projects on topics they choose.

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