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home : education : schools November 21, 2017

9/19/2017 12:49:00 PM
'Journey's Flight' was educational
Sisters Middle School students are celebrating the success of their monarch butterfly project  including the creation of a waystation and a book that has earned them international recognition. photo by Erin Borla
+ click to enlarge
Sisters Middle School students are celebrating the success of their monarch butterfly project including the creation of a waystation and a book that has earned them international recognition. photo by Erin Borla

By Erin Borla

Sisters Middle School students can be proud of what they have accomplished: raising and releasing a record-setting Western monarch butterfly, creating a monarch waystation to help the dwindling monarch population - and now a published book.

"Journey's Flight - One Western Monarch's Record-Setting Migration" went on sale to the public through Paulina Springs Books in Sisters and last Friday. The book project, a collaboration between Susie Werts' reading class and other Sisters students; the United States Forest Service; representatives from U.S. Fish and Wildlife; and local writer Jean Russell Nave, is a celebration of an amazing accomplishment.

After reading a story about the Western monarchs' winter migration in the spring of 2016, Werts' class decided to create a monarch waystation at the middle school. Local businesses and community members donated their time, products and services to help create the waystation with milkweed and nectar plants. These two plants created the perfect home for the monarch to grow, feed and thrive.

On September 15, 2016, Werts and her students released two monarchs - Hope and Journey. Each of the monarchs had been tagged with small stickers. 55 days later Werts received a phone call - Journey had been found in Carpinteria, California - an astounding 800-mile journey from his home in Sisters, Oregon. In fact, his migration was the longest on record for a western monarch.

Journey's journey was a remarkable one; Sisters Middle School is now included in scientific studies and included on several blogs across the country and the world, as far away as New Zealand.

With all the attention Journey was receiving, a book was developed - and it's the first book published on the western monarch.

"This truly was a community effort," Werts told middle school students in an all-school assembly last Friday. "It takes a village."

Each book includes chapters written by Sisters Middle School students, art from local students and scientific information from community partners.

"Forty-two classmates told Journey's story; they were writers and illustrators," said Werts. "It's a story of Journey's flight - where he may have gone; near Mt. Shasta, avoiding a car accident, predators and even a friend in a hummingbird."

"It was incredible working with the students," said Jean Russell Nave, a local author who contributed to the book and helped the students draft their chapters. "This thing (story) turns into something that lives and breathes. Without the kids the story wouldn't have the


In addition to simply learning about the monarchs, this hands-on project helped teach students about writing, illustrating and publishing.

"It was fun learning something interesting about an animal," said Teegan Haas, an eighth-grader. "It's amazing that something so small, like an insect, can go a long way."

Others enjoyed the opportunity to work with other students on this project.

"I liked getting to hang out in class with my friends and getting to do something that means something to other people," said sixth-grader Chloe Frazee. "I didn't realize how big of a deal this was. I mean, we're in a blog in New Zealand!"

Journey's Flight - One Western Monarch's Record-Setting Migration is available locally at Paulina Springs Books. Proceeds will help maintain the monarch program at the school. For more information about the monarch waystation and the overall project, visit

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