The ‘Love Alaska’ Project by Sarah Petersen and Lisa Longlet at Bowman Elementary School

We are an energetic group of fifty 3rd and 4th graders at Bowman Elementary School in the Anchorage School District who make up S & L’s (Sarah and Lisa’s) family group. Our ‘Alaska Love’ project is an activity for elders (grade 4 students) that allows them to share one of their special Alaskan experiences with our family group. While youngers (3rd graders) don’t present, they look forward to being an elder the following year and having their chance to share their special family memory. The academic focus of the project is writing a personal narratives, public speaking, and Alaska geography. 

In the fall, elders sign up for a date to share their Alaska Love project. Students receive their presentation packet two weeks before their date to present. Parents are given the date and time of the presentation and are encouraged to attend. Students then prepare a short story to present, and share photo(s) about a special place they have visited in Alaska. They have the opportunity to choose how they would like to present. We have had students bring photos to share under the document camera, some have created posters, while others have made slideshow presentations.

We encourage students to share their stories of subsistence living, amazing camping trips, family cabins, an experience at an Alaskan event, or any other Alaskan experience. Alaska Love is a recurring event, and students look forward to hearing stories and learning more about classmates connections to our great state.  

As you walk into our classroom, we have a color-mosaic collage of the state of Alaska. Each week that an elder presents, a photo is added to the collage along with the location the story took place. Families and students enjoy seeing the various locations and commonalities we may have with the places our family group has visited around our great state. Each week we enjoy watching our elders have an opportunity to be in the spotlight, share their special moment, and visit with families that are able to take part in the experience.