On Tuesday, November 13, each student in the Germantown Academy Lower School (PreK-5th Grade) received a special gift: their own personal copy of "The Wind in the Willows of Bucks County," an updated local version of the classic children's tale. As part of a philanthropic campaign spearheaded by The Vesta Fund, a local family foundation, "The Wind in the Willows of Bucks County" takes Kenneth Grahame's original characters of Mole, Rat, Toad, and Badger and transports them to idyllic settings in the heart of Bucks County, such as the Delaware River, the Black Bass Hotel, the Michener Museum, and the Aldie Mansion.
To promote "conserving, preserving, and serving" the environment, the Vesta Fund is donating 3,000 paperback copies of the book to area schoolchildren, highlighting local natural resources and historic landmarks in an educational, artistic way.
"The Wind in the Willows of Bucks County" features original artwork by celebrated plein air impressionist artist Alan Fetterman, and proceeds from a leather-bound collector's edition benefit the Heritage Conservancy, an organization that protects landmarks and natural treasures like those featured in the book.
As part of the special assembly, 4th Grade students performed a readers' theatre featuring the book's iconic characters. To top things off, one local family with children currently enrolled at GA commissioned a painting from Fetterman to hang in the newly renovated Lower School. "The Passage" was inspired by the natural spaces on the school's Fort Washington campus, featuring the Class of 1888 Bridge that spans the Wissahickon Creek and connects students to the environmental resources that are so often incorporated into their curriculum.
Sue Szczepkowski, Head of Lower School at Germantown Academy, knows the students were excited to receive the books, see the new painting, and perform their readers' theatre.
"The kids love these characters," she says, "and to not only see them reimagined in a local setting but also to bring them to life through this performance is a real treat. The themes of friendship and environmental appreciation that run through the book are right in line with what we do here at GA. We are extremely grateful for The Vesta Fund's generosity."
For more information about Germantown Academy's Lower School and Nature Program, visit www.germantownacademy.net/academics/lower-school.
For more information about Alan Fetterman, visit www.alanfetterman.com.
For more information about the Heritage Conservancy, visit www.heritageconservancy.org.