St. Kevin students write book in “hope” to raise funds for school


At a time when many Rhode Islanders face economic hardship and uncertainty, students at St. Kevin School are finding “hope” throughout the Ocean State.

Using the state’s official motto of “hope” as the theme, students illustrated and wrote a book to help raise money for the school’s 15th Annual Spring Auction, which will take place Friday at 6 p.m. at the Warwick Country Club at 394 Narragansett Bay Avenue.

The 24-page book, “Sir Otter’s Journey in Search of Hope,” is a collaborative school project in which each class, pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, researched a destination in Rhode Island to find optimistic signs of hope. Students used the school’s mascot, Sir Otter, as the guide throughout the book as each chapter lyrically tells a story about where and what is positive and hopeful in the state.

Fifth grader Grace McCarty, 11, designed the winning otter that was featured in the book, as the school recently held a contest to determine the best depiction of the animal.

“The otter is really cool because he’s our school mascot and he expresses hope throughout the whole story,” McCarty said.

McCarty, along with third grader Zack Wiczek, 8, and second grader Troy Fielding, 8, enjoyed drawing and making the collage with their peers. Whether Sir Otter traveled to the State House, Roger Williams Park or Narragansett Town Beach, the children said working on the project together was unique.

“I thought it was a really special opportunity because how often do you get to do a project like that?” said Fielding.

Older students, including fifth grader Camryn Devanney, 11, and sixth grader Anna Beaulieu, 12, also took pleasure in the creative aspect of the project.

“I liked the writing part because everyone got to put in their own ideas,” said Devanney, while Beaulieu said, “It was fun. I like to do artistic things.”

Devanney’s older sister, seventh grader Caroline, who will celebrate her 13th birthday May 4, said, “We got to help all the younger kids.”

For Caroline and Camryn’s mother, Carrie Devanney, a professional artist, who, along with other parents, volunteered her time to help guide students as they designed and created illustrations for each chapter of the book, witnessing students make the book was a treat.

“It was very enlightening to work with these children and see through their eyes what they consider to be hopeful during a time when so many people are unemployed and suffering financially,” she said in a statement.

Nicole McCarty, another parent volunteer who helped edit the stories, agreed.

“It was incredibly rewarding to see the children so focused on this project and to watch them work together as a team to create this beautiful book,” she said.

Each class had an opportunity to identify a location to research for the book. Once research was conducted, students collectively wrote about what they thought was promising and hopeful about the particular destination.

“It was an excellent opportunity for the students to sharpen their writing skills and design artwork that would help bring their story to life,” second grade teacher Mary Ann McKenney said in a statement.

The stories are each accompanied by an illustration, which is a collage of students’ original artwork adhered to a 24-by-24-inch wooden painting panel. The panels were created using oil pastels, heavy paper, string, tissue paper, sand and paste.

The result is a collection of artwork, which includes Sir Otter and the state’s anchor of “Hope” hidden among the images. The artwork, as well as a Vermont getaway, a Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers signed photo, an autographed football by the 2011 New England Patriots and tickets for a Red Sox vs. Yankees game in July at Fenway Park, are among auction items.

“Last year, the artwork was very popular,” said Principal Roger Parent. “They went for big bucks.”

Soft and hard cover copies of the book will be sold at the event. Prices start at $30. Proceeds will benefit school children and school improvements.


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