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Step onto any school campus and you'll feel its energy. Each school is turbocharged with the power of young minds, bodies, hearts and spirits.
Here on the Western Slope, young citizens are honing and testing their skills to take on a rapidly changing world. Largely thanks to technology, they are in the midst of the most profound seismic shift the world has ever seen.
Perhaps no time in our history has it been more important to know what our youth are thinking, feeling and expressing.
The Sentinel is proud to spotlight some of their endeavors. Read on to see how some thoroughly modern students are helping learners of all ages connect with notable figures of the past.
Storysmith® Susan Marie Frontczak as Madame Curie
Mention the word “history” to many folks, and they may dredge up memories of multiple-choice tests in which they guessed the names of presidents and dates of battles.
Young Chautauquans in the Grand Valley, however, know that history is much, much more than dry facts and figures. As scholars of key historical figures who also portray these figures on stage, Young Chautauquans realize that history is all about the human experience: dreams, aspirations, frustrations, goals, obstacles, relationships, successes, failures, hubris, humility, curiosity and, often, a desire to make a difference in the lives of others.
Young Chautauquans, ranging from elementary school up to high school, have portrayed a variety of historical figures over the years that Chautauqua has taken place in the Grand Valley. Each September adult Chautauquans and Young Chautauquans carry audiences back in time with charismatic, compelling performances under a big, white tent. (The ninth annual Two Rivers Chautauqua is set for Sept. 19-20 at Cross Orchards Living History Farm.)
For instance, Kaitlyn Burns has portrayed influential women such as Audrey Hepburn and Baby Doe Tabor. This season she is studying Irene Castle, a film star who later became an animal rights activist.
Katie Hartter has portrayed Juliette Gordon Lowe, the founder of the Girl Scouts of the United States of America.
Riley Sleigh has helped audiences better understand British General Cornwallis, best-known for losing the American colonies, while Anthony Booth has strode onto the stage as Lord Horatio Nelson, a long-time British naval commander revered for his victory at Trafalgar.
Last year Chloe Schrader sassily portrayed sharpshooter Annie Oakley and Dolcie Hanlon transformed herself into one of Colorado's legends, Poker Alice.
In April Grand Valley students received some expert coaching from Storysmith® Susan Marie Frontczak, who modeled for them how to turn in an outstanding Chautauquan performance by portraying Madame Curie. Curie made her way from Poland to France to study and eventually married Frenchman Pierre Curie. Madame Curie became a physicist known for her work on radioactivity. She was awarded not one, but two, Nobel prizes.
Frontczak conducted a series of workshops for students throughout the entire month of April. Thanks to her efforts and to those of Susan Hall, a retired District 51 teacher who now tirelessly coaches Young Chautauquans in the valley, students of all ages have the opportunity to learn from some extremely talented young teachers of history.
Kaitlyn Burns as Baby Doe Tabor
Katie Hartter as Juliette Gordon Lowe
Riley Sleigh as General Cornwallis
Photos of Young Chautauquans by Nita Kroninger
Photo of Susan Marie Frontczak as Madame Curie by Debra Dobbins