The Drachen Foundation is among several organizations that participated this year in the International Arts Consortium at Hamilton International Middle School and John Stanford International School in the Seattle School District. Consortium membersarts organizations, individual artists, community members, parents and volunteersintegrate international arts projects with a variety of curricula. Major funders of the program include the Washington State Arts Commission, the International Business Breakfast, and the PTSAs at each school.
DF has especially benefited from its participation in the consortium this spring, as Hamilton has offered an accessible, supportive environment for fine-tuning some new program offerings. After testing the Lambert fighter with eighth-graders at The Northwest School in February, DF Executive Director Ali Fujino was anxious to evaluate the projects effectiveness with students in a public school setting. Sixth-grade teacher Lynn Rody volunteered her class of arts students, which included several special learners. Kits prepared in advance, and lots of Drachen staff to help, resulted in a high level of success, especially, according to Rody, for some students who otherwise have difficulty staying focused. After a coaching session with champion flyer Bruce Lambert, who traveled from Yakima with his wife Donna to teach the class, Ms. Rody herself led the students in flying their kites the next day in the neighborhood park. DF still must meet some design and production challenges to make this kit for general use. Watch for it during the next school year.
DF also further tested the Kono Korean Fighter design that it had commissioned from kite designer Greg Kono for a project at Roxhill Elementary in February. Kono had revised the design, increasing the size of the sail, and eliminating one spar and some folding and gluing. Would these changes make the kite easier to assemble, in a much shorter period of time, for a wide range of older students, with fewer adults to help? Students in Joe Kisers Industrial Arts classes decorated their sails in advance, and after some advice about glue was clarified (No, more glue is NOT a good idea unless you want your sail to turn to mush!), most students mastered the assembly process. DF learned more about how to divide the building and bridling phases to fit public school class lengths, and will continue to tinker with the design before starting kit production. Again, watch for a kit in the fall.
DF also worked with a class of eighth-grade Japanese language students on a first version of a lesson about Japanese Kite Prints. Students read two essays, a short description of Japanese kites individually, then as a group an analysis of the relationship between Japanese kites and ukiyo-e, woodblock prints from Edo (Tokyo). They then made kaku dako, using a Mikio Toki kit. Many students chose to decorate their sails with kanji, which they are beginning to learn at this point in their study of Japanese. Others traced images of bijin (beautiful women) from prints teacher Kayomi McDonald had in her classroom. Flying was a challenge with virtually no wind, but students were very persistent.