“This is the coolest thing I’ve ever made,” exclaimed one fifth grader at the Keeseville Quest celebration at AARCH headquarters in June. We heartily agree that this is the coolest thing we’ve seen!
So, what is this mysterious, very cool project? It’s the Keeseville Quest, a community treasure hunt created by three 5th grade classes at Keeseville Elementary School. The “treasure” is not gold or jewels, but even better, local landmarks! Quests progress from one place to another, ending at a final destination with a reward for successful completion.
Questing was developed by Steven Glazer of Vermont and the idea behind it is simple: to get students outside to look at their communities and the surrounding landscape, discover the special places all around them, and highlight those special places and stories through a Quest. Questing is rooted in place-based learning. The idea behind that is simple, too: to build community pride and teach the value of having a sense of place.
Questing requires students to go out into the community and look hard at the local landscape. What’s there to see? What’s interesting?
What is important? What’s the story behind that building? Why does our community look the way it does? These are just some of the questions that students need to think about when designing their community quest.
Over the course of a week, Adirondack Architectural Heritage’s Program Director Karyn Norwood and the Adirondack Museum’s Museum Educator Christine Campeau (an AARCH board member) worked with students and their teachers to put together the quest, which focuses on Keeseville’s downtown. Students were introduced to Keeseville’s history and architecture through a walking tour with AARCH Executive Director, Steven Engelhart. Then each class put together a segment of the Quest, which required research, directional and drawing skills, creating rhymes, and drawing maps. Students looked closely at primary and secondary sources as they investigated the community’s history. The completed product is a fold-out brochure that includes a map, drawings, and clues in rhyme for each stop.
Here’s an example of a clue the students wrote–do you know what building this is and where it is in Keeseville?
In 1823, Mr. Keese built a parapet wall.
You are lucky you’re not on it, you could fall.
Instead you can admire the two fan windows that seem to call.
Richard Keese II amazingly built it all.
This little village shares his name,
now that’s what I call rising to fame.
Turn your back now to the house, and look down the road
to the old horse nail shop as you go.
The Keeseville Quest is the very first one in the Adirondacks. Copies of the Quest are available for free at the AARCH office, Monday through Friday from 8am to 4pm. Anyone is welcome to pick up a copy and try to solve it! The Quest is about a mile in length, takes 30 to 45 minutes to complete, and is a great way to learn to about Keeseville’s history and architectural highlights on your own.
We hope this is the first of many Adirondack quests to come! Are you interested in creating a quest in your community? Reach out to Karyn Norwood, AARCH Program Director, at 518-834-9328 or by email to find out how to get started questing!
Glazer, Steven, and Delia Clark. Questing. Lebanon, NH: University Press of New England, 2004.
Vital Communities. Valley Quest: Discover Our Special Places. White River Junction, VT: Vital Communities, 2002.
Visit the Vital Communities’ Valley Quest website and sign up for their newsletter!