NEWBURYPORT — The legacy of the Next Generation Preservationists continues Monday as the owners of historic houses around the city wake up to find handmade Valentine’s Day cards at their doors.
The annual act of love and appreciation for the city’s historic houses and buildings all started in 2019 when a group of about 20 Newburyport High School students gathered at a friend’s house to make the special valentines over pizza, Newburyport Preservation Trust member Patricia Peknik said.
The students, known as the Next Generation Preservationists, were interns with the Newburyport Preservation Trust.
After the students who came up with the idea graduated last year and went off to college, Peknik was determined to find a way for the tradition to continue.
“We’re such a great holiday town at Halloween and Christmas, and we all need a boost during snowy February,” she said.
Peknik reached out to Pamela Standley-Jamison, visual art education teacher and art curriculum leader at Francis T. Bresnahan Elementary School, who agreed to take on the project with her Grade 3 students.
The Newburyport Preservation Trust donated all the materials, including paper, stickers, hearts and sequins.
Last week, the students went to work, crafting 50 handmade cards and door hangings.
Standley-Jamison was impressed with how quickly they took on the project, saying, “The kids just didn’t even waver with ‘Can I take this home?’”
The art teacher, who has worked at the elementary school since 1994, said she loves these types of projects.
This project, in particular, immerses them in community service, while also teaching them the historical value of Newburyport, she said.
Standley-Jamison found some Valentine’s-themed quotes and printed them out for the students to copy onto the cards in cursive.
“The whole thing fit so nicely with our curriculum,” she said, noting that the project makes a return to the “sentimental, romanticized piece of Valentine’s Day.”
Supplies were also delivered to Newburyport High School art teacher Aileen Maconi, who works with National Art Honor Society students. The high school students made 50 cards and door hangings, as well.
Dozens of homes are expected to receive these valentines, crafted by both the elementary and high school students. Various “valentines helpers” will drop them off at homes in the late hours Sunday night or early hours Monday morning.
Peknik said the focus will be on smaller, historic homes this year.
On Ocean, Carter and Warren streets, for example, “There are some lovely little houses there that are never really celebrated, but I think they should be because they give the city a lot of its charm,” she said.
Peknik remains in contact with some of the Next Generation Preservationists and shared that they were happy to hear that the tradition would continue.
Maximin Clement, a freshman at DePaul University in Chicago, said, “It was because of that project that I now appreciate the architecture and history of Chicago.”
Trace Lustgarten, now a freshman at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, said, “I’m glad there are still kids in Newburyport being taught to appreciate the history of this beautiful city.”
Staff reporter Heather Alterisio can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 978-961-3149. Follow her on Twitter @HeathAlt.