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Timbuctoo comes to Au Sable Forks Elementary school

The folk duo Magpie, Greg Artzner and Terry Leonino visited the students at AuSable Forks Elementary School Oct. 12. 
Magpie is working with the students on a project for the “Voices of Timbuctoo: An Abolition Oratorio” project of  Helen Demong of Saranac Lake.

The folk duo Magpie, Greg Artzner and Terry Leonino visited the students at AuSable Forks Elementary School Oct. 12. Magpie is working with the students on a project for the “Voices of Timbuctoo: An Abolition Oratorio” project of Helen Demong of Saranac Lake. Photo by Katherine Clark.

— “A new life for me and you, the dream of Timbuctoo” will be brought to life by the fifth grade students from Au Sable Forks elementary students.

The folk duo Magpie, Greg Artzner and Terry Leonino visited the students for the first time on Oct. 12.

“We work with students from fourth and fifth grade about historical events,” Artzner said.

The dou work with students by introducing a historical event and telling them a story. Introducing slavery, the abolitionists, the story of John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry.

To this class, the duo taught the students about not just the tale of Harpers Ferry but going deeper into a certain story which is not widely told. The story of Gerrit Smith, a wealthy abolitionist who deeded land the black New Yorkers to secure a vote.

“Without land, no one could vote, Smith deeded the land to any black man who wanted to try to start a new life in the Adirondacks and give them the opportunity to vote,” Artzner said.

The duo started their artist residence at Ausable Forks Elementary School with children in the 4 through 6 grade classes of Tammy Forrence and Laurie Estes.

The session on Oct. 12 will be followed with two more sessions in November.

The duo, MAGPIE, travel from Middlebury throughout the country to use the lyrics and lessons to come together in a way for the students to feel history come alive.

MAGPIE's program of music from the Civil War era, like their other programs, goes beyond just the story of the war, of the government and the armies, to tell the personal stories of the people of the times and how they dealt with the crisis gripping the nation.

The program begins with music from the abolitionist movement and from the Underground Railroad.

The songs deal with Mary Brown, wife of the famed raider of Harper's Ferry, John Brown, and with the dangerous flight of the fugitive slaves to freedom in the north. They also celebrate the great conductor of the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman.

The duo will be working with the children to write the lyrics of a song inspired by Smith’s gift of land for freed slaves in the Adirondack Park.

The students will conclude their project by performing their original song at the John Brown Lives exhibit of “Dreaming of Timbuctoo.

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