Gruening art students learn colorful lesson in giving

Saturday, May 19, 2018 - 14:12
  • Homestead Elementary School kindergarteners, left, and Gruening Middle School eighth-graders, right, gather in Kim Madill’s classroom at Homestead on May 2 after the older students delivered the hand-painted chairs to the elementary school. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)
  • Kindergarteners at Homestead Elementary School look at freshly painted chairs delivered May 2, 2018 by art students at Gruening Middle School. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)
  • Homestead Elementary principal Dr. Jane Stuart takes photos of chairs painted by Gruening Middle School students, who delivered the chairs to a kindergarten classroom at Homestead on May 2, 2018. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)
  • Gruening Middle School eighth-graders carry their hand-painted chairs into Homestead Elementary School on May 2. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)

Like a rainbow arcing over Eagle River Road, students from Gruening Middle School brought a big splash of color to nearby Homestead Elementary last week.

On a sunny Wednesday morning, 19 members of Rachel Wall’s eighth-grade art class made the short walk between the schools to hand-deliver a batch of freshly painted chairs to Kim Madill’s kindergarten classroom. Sporting everything from abstract designs to colorful animals, the tiny chairs served as both the students’ final project and a way for the middle-schoolers to leave their mark.

“It’s just a way to showcase student artwork and to leave a legacy of being there,” Wall said.

Homestead principal Dr. Jane Stuart said the project is a natural fit because the elementary school emphasizes arts education.

“I love that it’s promoting art, that’s one of the focuses at Homestead,” Stuart said.

As the older students paraded into the classroom carrying the brightly painted chairs, wide-eyed kindergartners oohed, ahhed and squealed with delight.

“They’re very excited about it,” Madill said.

Wall — whose son, Jude, is in Madill’s class this year — said she got the idea of painting the kindergartners’ chairs when she visited Madill during parent-teacher conferences.

“Of all places to have a ton of color, it should be a kindergarten class,” Wall said.

A plan was set in motion, and last month Wall and her husband drove over to Homestead to pick up the chairs. Over the next two weeks, the art students worked their magic using sandpaper, acrylic paint and permanent markers.

“The kids sand the chairs, add the base coat of paint and then they do their design,” Wall explained.

Student Emily Novak said the project allowed students to show their creativity.

“Basically it expresses us,” said Novak.

Her classmate Isabelle Garza said students were proud to see their finished chairs being used by the kindergarten students.

“It’s pretty cool,” she said. “I contributed.”

Garza and Novak said the project taught them a lot about the process that goes into creating a finished art project.

“A lot of time and effort went into it,” Garza said.

Stuart said she was thrilled with how the project turned out and enjoyed seeing Gruening and Homestead work together to create something fun and functional.

“It’s a great community effort between the two schools,” she said.

Email Star editor Matt Tunseth at [email protected] or call 257-4274

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