Bridgewater Elementary School

 


Making Tracks was a project designed for Grade Four students at Bridgewater Elementary School. The history of the railway in Bridgewater was examined, then students took an exploratory trip on the old railway bed (now the Centennial Trail), and created an imaginary journey to discover something about travels through time.

Through the fall and winter of the 2002-03 school year visual artist Ronnie Scullion and writer Joanne Jefferson guided students on this voyage of discovery.  No trip can get underway without planning and 'packing'. Using a twist on the traditional children's song/game "My Grandmother went on a trip and into her suitcase she packed..." students began listing the things that they would take on their journeys. Passports were created and suitcases constructed. Students 'packed' their suitcases with items that literally popped-up when the suitcases were opened.

It was a process that afforded the students an opportunity to examine and consider their identity - who they are as travelers - before they embarked on their journey.

The first destination was the Centennial Trail, a community recreation route that follows the former railway bed through the town of Bridgewater. Students brought sketchbooks to record their impressions: the sights, sounds and smells en route. They were able to collect souvenirs of their excursion - fallen leaves, bits of bark, etc.  Back at the school they took their notes, drawings and objects and began to render these in a more finished record of their first excursion.

A second stop along the way was the Railway Museum in Bridgewater's South Shore Mall. The museum includes artifacts from the Halifax and Southwest Railways, maps of the former routes, and a scale model of the railway. Museum interpreters loquaciously related many stories, anecdotes and railway lore. These became the springboard for imaginative stories and skits students would write to depict railway history and life.

The skits were incorporated into a public presentation that included songs and historcal information about the railway past and present. Making Tracks: a Voyage of Discovery was performed April 23rd, 2003 at the Bridgewater Elementary School.