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Sarasota Thursday, May 6, 2010 10 years ago

CLASSROOM SPOTLIGHT: Imagine School at Palmer Ranch

by: Loren Mayo Black Tie Editor

Sixth-grade students at Imagine School are studying utopian societies through literary works such as "Animal Farm" by George Orwell, "The Veldt" by Ray Bradbury and "Harrison Bergeron" by Kurt Vonnegut.

Sarah Switzer
What is a utopian society?
It’s the idea of a perfect place where everybody is equal and everything is supposed to be perfect and nice.

If you could design your own utopian society, what would it be like?
I would keep everything the same as right now because I like that everybody has differences.

What literary work did you find most interesting?
"The Velt." It takes place in the future with a bunch of new inventions — there’s a closet that shoots you up through a tunnel into whatever room you want to be in. It’s about a nursery that’s two-dimensional, and whatever the kids imagine in their head will appear as walls. It’s very mysterious.

Hanna King
Would a utopian society work here?
We try to make a perfect place, but people want power. You can’t make everyone equal. These differences make you who you are.

How did the stories you’ve been reading relate to utopian societies?
They tell how the people keep trying to form one, but you can’t really make a perfect place.

Which literary work was your favorite?
“Animal Farm." It was interesting and didn’t show people and a perfect society, it used animals. At first, the animals were equal and just wanted good for each other. But some animals started being higher than others.

Jake Mayer
What literary work did you find most interesting?
“Harrison Bergeron." People are made equal by handicaps — the smart people have to wear earpieces so they can’t think extra thoughts. The strongest people have to wear ankle weights. Pretty people have to wear bags over their faces. Harrison Bergeron has the most handicaps because he is a perfect person.

What did you learn from this story?
The author proved it’s really hard to make a utopian society. It always ends badly.

Caleb Wilson
Was there something in particular that you took away from these literary works?
They got me thinking, not about a perfect place, but about how to make our community better. I’m inspired by what I can help people with. These books would always come up with something that couldn’t happen.

Would a utopian society work here?
It’s impossible to make a perfect place.

Which literary work was your favorite?
“Animal Farm." The author is trying to say that even with animals, you can’t make a perfect place. He’s really just showing how humans act and that every society is unfair. When you try to make the idea for a perfect place, everybody goes with it, and then some use it to their advantage.

Contact Loren Mayo at [email protected].

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