Lighthouse projects at Saint Rose of Lima have teacher beaming

The Bodie Island Lighthouse is 43-miles north of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. Both are located in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and have been made by students in Greenstein’s class.(photo courtesy of Stefanie Wetzel)
The Bodie Island Lighthouse is 43-miles north of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. Both are located in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and have been made by students in Greenstein’s class.(photo courtesy of Stefanie Wetzel)
Students in Mary Greenstein’s fourth-grade class at Saint Rose of Lima Catholic School constructed lighthouse models, like this one of the Pemaquid Point Light in Bristol, Maine. (photo courtesy of Stefanie Wetzel)
Students in Mary Greenstein’s fourth-grade class at Saint Rose of Lima Catholic School constructed lighthouse models, like this one of the Pemaquid Point Light in Bristol, Maine. (photo courtesy of Stefanie Wetzel)
Teacher Mary Greenstein says the student who chose to do her project on the Point Vicente Lighthouse, which is located near Los Angeles, was inspired by her newborn baby brother, who was named Vincent. (photo courtesy of Stefanie Wetzel)
Teacher Mary Greenstein says the student who chose to do her project on the Point Vicente Lighthouse, which is located near Los Angeles, was inspired by her newborn baby brother, who was named Vincent. (photo courtesy of Stefanie Wetzel)

Saint Rose of Lima Catholic School fourth-grade teacher Mary Greenstein is brimming with enthusiasm for the work her students put into this year’s lighthouse extra-credit assignment.

“This is my favorite project ever,” says the 36-year teaching veteran and Roseville resident, who’s taught fourth grade at Saint Rose for the past 22 years.

Greenstein explains the work is an optional assignment — students write a report about a lighthouse, draw it, and build a model of it — and it’s worth 40 points. 

Typically, she says only one or two students opt not to do the semi-annual assignment. This year, 12 of her 14 students went for the extra-credit points. 

Greenstein says the project fits well into students’ social studies curriculum.

“When they get to the fourth grade [the focus is on] U.S. regions, and when we get to the southeast region, there’s a lesson on lighthouses,” she says.

The project works, Greenstein says, because her 9- and 10-year-old students utilize “their multiple intelligences to research, design, construct and write about a lighthouse of their choosing.”

Greenstein has assigned the lighthouse project four times previously, and says she’s seen all sorts of means used to make the lighthouses come to life: Legos, marshmallows, plaster, and in the case of the 4-foot model of the Cape Hatterus Lighthouse in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, wood.

One year, Greenstein says a girl in her class recreated New York City’s Statue of Liberty with a Barbie doll — “She spray painted it for that patina color and put a Christmas light in her hand.”

Speaking of lighting, Greenstein says some students will even accurately mimic their lighthouse’s beacon pattern — one girl’s project has her tower’s flash pattern down, and it plugs into the wall.

Then, there are the standard choices for Minnesota kids.

“You get a lot of Split Rock,” she says, mentioning the 106-year-old lighthouse on the North Shore located between Two Harbors and Silver Bay. She says those models usually come swathed in azure tablecloths. 

“I call it Lake Superior blue,” she says.

Her students completed their assignments just in time to show them off at a school event for Catholic Schools Week, which was Jan. 31 to Feb. 6. The lighthouses should be on display at Saint Rose of Lima through about Feb. 19.

Greenstein says that her class’ enthusiasm for the maritime beacons has shown up in her life outside of school, as well.

“Now,” she says, “when I go traveling I’m looking for lighthouses.”

—Mike Munzenrider

 

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