Out & About: Norwich students offer neighborly advice

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    Sixth-graders Paulina Sandor, Mac Hamner and Ben De Silva work on weaving strips of fabric into a fence at the Norwich Historical Society last week. Students at Marion Cross Elementary School answered the question "What does it mean to be a good neighbor?" (Courtesy photograph) Courtesy photograph

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 11/19/2022 10:41:40 PM
Modified: 11/19/2022 10:41:31 PM

“Be there for them.”

“Keep quiet at night.”

“Don’t yell at them.”

“Respect their property.”

“Talk with them sometimes.”

These are among the suggestions students at Marion Cross Elementary School had for answers posed by the Norwich Historical Society: “What does it mean to be a good neighbor?”

“The entire school has been exploring that question,” said Sarah Rooker, the historical society’s director.

Last Monday afternoon, sixth graders from the school diligently worked to weave those phrases and many others into wire fences set up on the Norwich Historical Society’s Main Street lawn. This week, community members can use strips of fabric and markers outside the building to add their own answers to the fence.

The community art project is part of the historical society’s “Mending the Spaces Between” exhibit, the centerpiece of which is a historic bible that had its insides cut up. Artists created works in response to that piece and students visited the exhibit.

“I think it’s a way to bring the school and community together,” sixth grader Lila Marchetti said while taking a brief break from weaving Monday afternoon. She was one of around a dozen students who came over in later afternoon to work on the project.

The project involved the entire school. Older students helped younger students work on their strips. Lila said that was her favorite part of the project.

Students also visited the historical society to learn more about the tensions that existed in the town’s earlier years, including when Norwich University was still in Norwich.

“They did a great job working with the younger students in the school,” sixth grade teacher Leslie Dustin said while supervising the students. “They really understood that it’s a program that’s about creating something that isn’t always easy.”

Sixth grader Paulina Sandor said she enjoyed brainstroming ideas with other students about what it means to be a good neighbor. It could be something as simple as keeping the noise down at your house if you’re having a party.

“I’ve learned there are a lot of ways to become neighbors,” Paulina said.

Churches in town and the Norwich Public Library are also participating, Rooker said. One of the goals for the project is to have discussions about what to be thankful for in the community and how to celebrate togetherness.

“When you weave, you weave tight bonds,” Rooker said. “I think in this world today, we need to celebrate that.”

Editor’s note: For more information, email info@norwichhistory.org.

Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727-3221.

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