ARCANUM — A bear hunt, of sorts, was held in the village in the last few weeks to keep students active and engaged.
“It kind of exploded,” said Joni Pechie, Arcanum Elementary Principal, who based this creative event on the children’s book, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury.
The idea was to encourage students, as the weather grew milder and while abiding by social distancing, to walk or drive through the Arcanum neighborhoods to find stuffed bears or even printed pictures of bears in the windows of area homes and businesses.
Pechie began the event with a Facebook Live reading of the popular book, followed by a variety of challenges posted on social media such as counting how many brown or white bears to how many were wearing accessories or clothing.
Students were even tasked with finding particular bears around the community with clues provided by Pechie. One such bear was discovered at the new village administration building by Arcanum student Madelynn Dillon.
Pechie explained how the event got bigger than expected, assuming a few families would participate only to have over 100 bears around town. Further, the plan was to hold the event for a week. However, as the bear hunt gained in popularity, the event continued into the following week. She even included a randomized wheel to draw names for prizes. Those prizes were a book and a pencil mailed to a student to again, keep them engaged and entertained.
Pechie, like many area school teachers, administrators, and facilitators, is looking for ways to boost student morale during this challenging time with social distancing and other factors related to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Currently, Pechie is hosting various weekly wrap-ups on Facebook Live, such as science experiments, pep rallies with the school fight song, every Friday. She explained one reason for not only the bear hunt but other activities is due to the fact parents are worried about children not dealing well with the ramifications of COVID-19 that has included the closure of playgrounds and an inability to see their friends. The bear hunt provided an opportunity not only for students but also for families to get out of the house.
Pechie shared how one grandparent participated every day with their grandchild while keeping safe with social distancing. She also noted that while Arcanum is small and made the hunt more accessible, she does encourage others to find ways to do anything extra.
“This is a new normal for them, anything different, exciting and engaging and that is safe, we are going to do it,” said Pechie who is already thinking about new ideas and activities, while waiting on the weather to continue to improve.
Reach reporter Bethany J. Royer-DeLong at 937/548-3330 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more news, features, and sports at DarkeCountyMedia.com.