Kokopelli visits school

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By Kirsten Laskey

Kokopelli, a fertility and agriculture deity who chases away winter and ushers in spring with his flute playing, traveled to Barranca Mesa Elementary School this week.

The fourth-grade class worked since January to prepare for his arrival. In fact, the whole staff, from physical education instructors to social studies teachers, got in on the action. They helped students not only study this Southwestern Native American god, but write and illustrate books about the deity, create puppets for a puppet show, rehearse a song about Kokopelli, and learn a Kokopelli dance.

Alice Newman, Barranca librarian, said fourth-graders study New Mexico as part of their curriculum. The special instructors, along with the fourth-grade teachers, decided to join together to “show how all this knowledge is related.”

Plus, “we wanted them to see how special New Mexico is,” she said.

Students not only wanted to honor Kokopelli through their work, but also their parents. Therefore, parents were invited to an assembly Tuesday to read student’s stories and watch performance about Kokopelli. “And the parents were very pleased,” Newman said.

Another assembly celebrating Kokopelli was held Friday. Pueblo storytellers and dancers came to school to share their knowledge to students.

Students enjoyed celebrating Kokopelli, Newman said. It was an opportunity to learn about a mischievous, lady-chasing god and to apply all their knowledge from different areas into a single topic.

“It’s all about what learning is about,” Newman said. “(They) put their knowledge together.”

“I’m pretty pleased with them,” she added. “They loved Kokopelli.”

Kokopelli, Newman said, is one of the oldest Kachinas. He usually appears as a humped-back flutist. Depictions of Kokopelli are everywhere; pictures of him are as far south as Mexico and as far north as White Rock Canyon, she said.