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Samantha Smith Challenge

June 11, 2020

St. John’s Catholic School – Brunswick

Students working in the classroom before the pandemic

Like other education initiatives this year the Samantha Smith Challenge (SSC) has been turned upside down a bit. The The planned Samantha Smith Day celebration to bring together participating students from throughout Maine was canceled for June 1. However, some schools have continued their projects working with their teachers remotely.

One such school is St. John’s Catholic School in Brunswick. The focus of Tiffany Jones 5th graders project is ‘disabilities’ and they have chosen to write and illustrate a children’s book. They are working with publisher Just Write Books based in Topsham. The book is about animals with disabilities, e.g. a moose who is blind, and how they come together to a place of acceptance and understanding. This project is a great example of using the arts to deliver an important message and of staying connected and not losing momentum in a time that has thrown us all a bit off course.

MISSION

Rob Shetterly

The Samantha Smith Challenge is a dynamic educational program for Maine middle school students designed to build a bridge between the classroom and the world and to create curious, courageous, and engaged citizens. SSC projects teach students that, no matter what age, they can be part of solving the challenge and problems they see around them.

The Samantha Smith Challenge is a program of Americans Who Tell the Truth. Artist Robert Shetterly is the founder and Connie Carter works with Rob to bring the program to classrooms across Maine. It is an amazing program!

THE STORY

They have 9 animals from the story in Life On The Farm:
  • Maddie Smith – Jewel the Peacock has Spina Bifida
  • Eliza Davis – Everly the Raccoon has diabetes
  • Maeve Coughlin – Nicole the Fox has Autism
  • Tessa Couture – Puff the Ostrich has Anxiety
  • Wyatt Papernik – Maverick the Moose has Blindness
  • Aurora Blier – Carrie the Cricket has Deafness
  • Ava O’Connell – Fluffernutter the Deer has Depression
  • Abbie Minzner – Buddy the Dog has ADHD
  • Mrs. Jones – Tom the Turkey has Asthma

The animals arrive at a farm where they don’t “fit in”. The story shows how they come together and enjoy playing… learning that it is ‘Best to fit in with the ones who Stand Out’:)

BOOK COVER

STUDENTS RESPONSE

Describe your animal character and something about them that is unique.

  • Jewel, the peacock,  has two different sides.One is competitive and daring and one is kind and loving
  • Nicole, the fox, is unique because she doesn’t care whether or not people know about her “disability”
  • Everley, the raccoon, is special, caring and creative, she cares about other animals and doesn’t let her                                           diabetes define who she is.

What was the most exciting part of this project?

  • The most exciting part of this project was knowing that we were actually publishing a book. Helping the world become a better place. I’ve always wanted to write a book or do something in the creative field. Being able to do this with my class is just an amazing experience I’ll carry throughout my entire life – Eliza Davis
  • Doing it with my friends and teacher. – Maddie  Smith
  • I think the most exciting part of this project was the fact that we could actually get this book published, which is amazing. – Maeve Coughlin
  • Maybe getting money from the book and giving it to charities.- Medal of Honor Recipient / Wyatt Papiernik
What skill or tidbit that you learned that you can take with you throughout your lifetime?
  • Well, something I learned was not really a skill, but I didn’t previously know about spina bifida.  I also learned how cooperative you have to be to write a book. – Maeve Coughlin
  • A skill that i learned that i’m certain i will take with me is the use of different words. Will writing Life on the Farm a lot of our writing sounded very repetitive. There’s so many words out there so we learned how to use them. Often I find writing just needs a variety of words to spice it up a little. – Eliza Davis
  • Being patient. – Maddie Smith
  • Be grateful and be respectful in life. – Medal of Honor Recipient / Wyatt Papiernik
If you were to write and illustrate your own book what might the title be?
  • Deep within. – Maddie Smith
  • If I were to write my own book it would most likely be a novel. I would call it a night on the train. A murder mystery story where each time they leave the carrige there numbers decline. – Eliza Davis
  • I would probably write a nature book, I don’t know exactly what I would name it though. – Maeve Coughlin
  • Learning about  Disabilities For Kids – Medal of Honor Recipient / Wyatt Papiernik 
FROM TIFFANY
“Nancy Randolph is the amazing Publicist. We are getting so so close to publishing!!  We have an ISBN number and may have a first published copy by June 8th!! YAHOOOOOOO!”

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