The Nautilus: An Enduring Symbol at Princeton Junior School

In her book, Wisdom at Play, Princeton Junior School founder, Juliana McIntyre Fenn, shares the story of her search for a school logo, a symbol to reflect the educational process at PJS.  She recalls the day that a close friend gave her a half-shell of the chambered nautilus.  When she used it to create a print of black ink on white paper, she instinctively knew that she had found a symbol that would resonate with children.  After consulting the nearest dictionary to research the this "extraordinary shelter," Ms. McIntyre Fenn discovered that "the nautilus is the sole survivor of a class of mollusks that flourished 200 million years ago.  The shell, like a suit of armor protects the soft animal.  It has brown and white stripes on the outside and is beautiful and pearly on the inside.  In the beginning, the tiny larva lives in one chamber.  As it grows, it builds larger and larger chambers in a spiral formation, with a connecting canal that extends back through the walls to the core.  The nautilus lives in the newest and largest chamber.” This symbol continues to resonate in 2017.

 
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When discussing the PJS Community Covenant, the children in the Toddler Class became intrigued by the rainbow nautilus as a symbol of our school. They soon discovered that variations of the nautilus can be found all around PJS, and so the Nautilus Hunt began.

The Toddler Nautilus Hunt inspired artwork and creativity.  Using paintbrushes and watercolors, the children filled their spiral with color.  They painted lines, curves, spots, dots, circles and spirals inside the larger black spiral.  Using loose parts such as gems, wooden rings and other pieces, the children decorated their spirals, creating faces, trains and rainbow paths to follow.

The chambered nautilus continues to be a fitting symbol of Princeton Junior School, a representation of a child's growth and transformation from the center outward toward the world beyond, a spiraling path from being to becoming.

PHOTOGRAPHS OF PJS CHILDREN, FACULTY AND STAFF WITHIN THE CHAMBERS OF THE NAUTILUS, PAINTED BY PERRY MILOU

PHOTOGRAPHS OF PJS CHILDREN, FACULTY AND STAFF WITHIN THE CHAMBERS OF THE NAUTILUS, PAINTED BY PERRY MILOU