I remember the first kite my Dad made. It was large, made of heavy white tyvek material, with a large red circle like the flag of Japan. The kite was so bulky it barely lifted off the ground, but it was unique. Among the many other store bought kites, this one was unique, and it had personality. I remember dozens of kites flying over Woodlawn. A train of black, white, and orange trash bags. Held aloft by a thin dowel exoskeleton. One time, I remember my Dad frantically reeling them in as a thunderstorm quickly approached.
Homemade kits were his specialty. I think he made nearly every variety possible. For many years I saw my Dad use the sewing machine more than anyone else. Digging through the scrap bin of nylon at the craft store, stitching together patchwork quilt designs to blow in the breeze.
None of my students had ever constructed their own kites. They were used to seeing generic themed kites coming from the grocery store checkout line. Toy Story featuring Buzz Lightyear, Star Wars with Skywalker, and plenty of Lego men to fly high in the sky were the norm. Deltas and diamonds snapped together, flown briefly, then cast by the wayside. The students were quite excited to craft their own. The design was simple. The materials basic. Within minutes we were making kites.
Today was the last day of school. After a village scavenger hunt followed by a bar-b-q it was time to launch our kites as afternoon breezes picked up. Kids ranging from 2nd grade all the way to high school enjoyed flying kites in the arctic air.
We found a nice open space across the school. Clear of power lines and trees, but not quite clear of snow. Almost flawlessly Gretchen helped cast the kites up into the air. Children learned through trial and error how to keep their kites flying the highest and longest.
A special thanks to my parents for gathering all the materials and mailing them all the way to Arctic Village. We were even able to train up two kites, one of the kids said “ah look, its Sam & Gretchen.”