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Troy Creates Its Own Story

The Missoulian (Missoula, MT) , May 24, 2007


The beginning for Beth Nixon and Troy was five years ago, when the puppeteer from Philadelphia arrived in northwest Montana with a Pew foundation grant and a plan to tell Troy's tale. She settled into the local schools, carved cardboard and plastered papier-mache and slung paint to create, with a whole lot of help from local school kids, a giant, wearable puppet parade.

“It was pretty amazing,” Nixon said of that parade now five years gone. “It was an important experience.”

And so Nixon wasn't exactly surprised when Troy invited her back this spring, courtesy of grants from the Montana Arts Council, the Montana Committee for the Humanities and the Troy Fine Arts Council.

“Morrison Elementary wanted a giant puppet show,” Nixon said. “It was all about storytelling.”

In fact, school principal Lance Pearson said the whole school year had been about stories, and kids had listened to many tales through the winter months. International travelers had shared stories. So had American Indians.

Stories, the kids learned, are important. They're who we are.

“And the puppet show was the grand finale,” Pearson said. “This brought us together - the teachers, the students, the parents. It was so collaborative, and it got families involved in the whole curriculum.”

Pearson said his elementary classes studied oral traditions, later the written word. By the time Nixon showed up, they were ready to tell their own story.

Subjects Covered: Education

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