Jungle comes alive in Rankin
Students enjoy learning experience

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

RANKIN INLET (Oct 13/99) - The Leo Ussak elementary school gym in Rankin Inlet was alive with the sights and sounds of a tropical rainforest this past week, much to the delight of the large crowd on hand for the event.

Inspired by the visit of New York state's Paul Hurteau, the hour-long performance entertained, amused and educated those in attendance on various species of wildlife in Africa and Ecuador's rainforest.

Hurteau spent the month of September working with every class in the school.

He draws from his experiences teaching in Africa and the rainforest to bring the far-off and exotic places to life for local kids.

Armed with songs, poems and dazzling slide shows, Hurteau says students react well to the interaction involved with his programs.

"They really enjoy writing their own poems, constructing their own masks and creating drawings for me to take back to the rainforest when I go," says Hurteau.

"They learn about the culture and wildlife of these areas and really have fun while they learn."

School vice-principal Sarah Ayaruak agrees her students truly enjoyed Hurteau's visit.

"Each class made their own poem and came up with the idea for their own mask to show one of the animals they learned about," says Ayaruak.

"I know the kids were really enjoying Paul's visit and having him in the classroom because every time they saw him out in one of the halls, they would yell, 'Hi Paul!'

"He'd be out in the hall and there would be a group of kids together and they sounded like a bunch of seagulls all trying to say hi to him at once."

Hurteau also delivered a slide show of the rainforest and the African jungle to students at both Maani Ulujuk and Alaittuq high school to positive reviews.

Ayaruak says the kids enjoyed learning about different animals in the rainforest and how kids in other parts of the world live.

"I think what they probably enjoyed the most were Paul's slide shows and putting on their own show for the community," says Ayaruak.

"We received positive comments from the parents about the kids' efforts and everybody thought it was a great show."

Hurteau says it's too early to say anything definite, but he hopes arrangements can be made to bring him back to the Kivalliq for a longer stay.

"I've talked to Cheryl (Leo Ussak principal Cheryl Forbes) about coming back to create a Children of the Arctic program.

"We 're looking into the possibilities and, if that happens, I would end up delivering that program in New York state classrooms, bring a bit of the Arctic to them."