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Madawaska students helping community learn about Acadian history

MADAWASKA, Maine — The​ Maine​ ​Acadian​ ​Heritage​ ​Council​ ​recently granted​ ​funds to Madawaska Elementary School teacher ​Gina​ ​Jandreau​ ​to​ ​produce​ ​an additional 20 copies of “Acadian Culture​ ​in​ ​Madawaska​,” a book that she and her 4th grade students created in 2015.

Two years ago, copies of the book were donated to the school and town libraries and many ​also​ were ​purchased​ ​by​ ​Acadian​ ​culture​ ​enthusiasts, Jandreau said. Students​ will donate the new copies ​to​ ​local businesses​ with waiting​ ​areas, giving the book and the students’ work added attention.

“I think it’s pretty cool,” being published, Emma Gendreau said in class on Wednesday.

Gendreau and classmate Chris Martin, now in Jandreau’s 6th grade class, were among the students who created the book two years ago.

“I learned a lot about history,” Martin said. “I liked learning about the things on other people’s pages too.”

The council granted Jandreau $1,000 for the project, which included printing costs for the 20 books and funds for a class trip to the Tante Blanche Museum in St. David. The hardbound, high gloss coffee table books are printed through ​​Shutterfly.com.

Each student worked on a page or topic in the book, which includes sections on the history of​ Madawaska,​ ​the Madawaska Acadian​ ​Festival,​ ​​the 2014 World Acadian Congress,​​ the​ ​Tante​ ​Blanche​ ​Museum,​ ​the​ ​Martin​ House,​ ​Acadian​ ​foods and pastimes​ and​ ​more.​

The​​ 20-page book​ ​includes​ ​photos​ ​of​ ​places​ in​ and​ ​around​ ​town​ ​that​ illustrate local culture​ ​and that organizers hope  ​will  ​spark​ ​further​ ​interest​ ​in​ ​the​ subject.​ ​​

“I like to learn about Acadian culture,” said Gendreau “It’s about why our ancestors came here.”

Jandreau, who now teaches 5th and 6th grades, and her students also have created other books on Madawaska businesses, natural history and outdoor recreation.

Students write the text based on their own interviews and research. Jandreau then lays out each book with photos and graphics. Currently, Jandreau is looking for the next topic her students can explore and write about.

“The kids were taken to all the places, so they could see first-hand,” Jandreau said of the Acadian book.

“I actually saw some things there from my ancestors,” Gendreau said of her class visit to the Tante Blanche Museum.  

During a trip to the Acadian Cross and landing area in St. David, some students were able to find their family stone from previous festival reunions.

Martin, who did his section on the Martin House, said he has, so far, found no ties between his family and those of the Martin House.

“That would be pretty cool,” if it were to happen, he added. Even so, the work has raised an interest in Martin about his family history.

“I feel more connected than before,” he said.

Gendreau and Martin said when they get to 7th grade next year, they intend to suggest doing a similar project with their new teacher.

“It was really run,” Martin said.  “I’d love to do it again.”

Any business owner interested in displaying the Acadian book may contact Jandreau at MES to request a copy. More information about the book, including options to purchase a copy, may be found at https://ginajandreau.wixsite.com/mysite/acadian-culture-in-the-madawaska-ar.

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