Rock game calls for searchers

Paul Bickford/NNSL photo
Adison Korotash, a Grade 5 student at Princess Alexandra School, places a painted rock inside the Hay River Heritage Centre on June 22 as part of a class project called Find Your Charockters.

A project by a group of Grade 5 students is reaching far beyond their classroom at Princess Alexandra School.

The project involves the Hay River Heritage Centre, and basically anyone walking in the downtown core.

It’s called Find Your Charockters.

As explained by teacher Jennifer Tweedie, each of her 23 students has painted 25 pairs of rocks, and each pair is basically identical.

That gives a grand total of 1,150 rocks.

On June 22, one rock from each pair was placed somewhere inside the Hay River Heritage Centre or on its grounds.

And sometime in the past couple of days, the remaining rocks were placed throughout the downtown from the Visitor Information Centre to Harry Camsell School.

That means for each rock placed in the downtown its twin is at the museum.

If town residents or visitors spot one of the painted rocks downtown, they are being encouraged to pick it up and head to the museum to try to find the rock’s twin.

Tweedie said her students have enjoyed the project.

“They love it,” she said. “They’re really excited.”

Tweedie said the project basically spanned the school year, beginning with the collection of rocks in October along the Kiwanis Nature Trail following a heavy snowfall.

“It was the first big snowstorm of the year and so the kids were waist high and had to dig through the snow in order to get the rocks,” she recalled.

The students then painted the rocks to express various emotions.

Tweedie said the project has a number of purposes.

To begin with, it is a study of emotion, art and painting.

Plus, Tweedie noted it teaches leadership by showing the students how to partner with the community and the museum.

“The kids also did some writing,” she said. “This is a language arts project, as well. So they picked out a rock that was their favourite and they created a character sketch. And the character has a leadership quality.”

In addition, the project has a technology aspect, since people finding the rocks are being encouraged to take pictures and post them on an Instagram account called ‘charockters’ with information on where they were found.

The project also benefits the Hay River Heritage Centre.

“We saw it as an opportunity to get the youth involved in the museum because one of our mandates this year is for the board and the museum society to encourage the youth to be more involved with the history of Hay River and surrounding area,” said museum manager Kirk Vander Ploeg. “So we saw this as a slam dunk because we got the kids in the museum. We’re getting the public to get involved in a children’s program. And it’s fun.”

Some of the rocks will even be permanently displayed at the museum at the conclusion of the project.

Eleven-year-old Payton Walters said she has enjoyed the class project.

“It was really fun,” she said.

The 11 year old said, among other things, she painted rocks with a polar bear, a pig and a girl with flowers on her head.

Keira Coakwell also said the project was really fun.

“And it’s going to be fun for the people in the summer and it will give them something to do,” said the 10 year old, adding she hopes all the rocks are found and matched.

The two students also learned something about the Hay River Heritage Centre, explaining that, before their visit on June 22, they didn’t realize that the museum had once been an old Hudson’s Bay store.