While traditional corporate art has its place, it didn’t speak to the mission of the district and the very special people that it served.
That’s when Estrop’s administrative assistant hit upon an idea.
Why not use the work of the talented art students within the district to visually tell visitors to the building “welcome to our school district – this is who we are,” said Tricia Thorley, Wooster High School art department chair.
That simple concept was the seed from which the annual Student Art Exhibition at the Wooster City School District board of education building grew.
“Why pay for corporate art when we have as good if not better,” said Thorley of the students’ work.
“To me it makes so much more sense for a school district to hang what our kids produce. It gives credit to our students, to art instructors.
“It’s showcasing what we do. This is what we teach. This is what we’re proud of. This is what they are proud of,” said Thorley.
The community had its first opportunity to view the 86 pieces of art, lovingly crafted by students in kindergarten through 12th grade from throughout the district, which will adorn the walls and showcases of the stately building for the next year during an opening reception Sept. 28.
“This is one of my favorite activities to do at the beginning of the school year,” said Superintendent Michael Tefs. “What better way to start things off than to showcase our talented students?”
According to Tefs, the exhibit opening “gives community members a chance to interact with them and to see what our district is all about.
“A world-class education does not consist of academics alone,” said Tefs, adding, “to be successful, students need to be well-rounded and gain experience in all areas, and we do a great job of providing those opportunities.”
Elementary art teacher Joanne Amstutz agrees that art can be an enriching experience for students.
“Life cannot be all about tests,” said Amstutz.
“Sometimes what’s really fun is to catch a child who is maybe not that star student and you see something in them and you can nudge that. Then they can have something they can be proud of. Art is so good at that,” said Amstutz, adding that enjoying art is something the students can do for the rest of their lives.
For art teacher and student artist alike, preparations for the exhibit began almost a year ago.
Throughout the 2010-2011 school year Thorley, Amstutz and fellow art teachers Katie Putka of Wooster High School, Dawn Blattel of Edgewood Middle School and elementary art teachers Ashley Bowman and Laurie Schultz began setting aside some of their students’ best work.
Amstutz noted that after last spring’s Fine Arts Festival the art teachers continued the process of screening and selecting “the best of the best” from their respective schools.
From there each art teacher was allowed to select eight pieces of art for inclusion in the show.
In the days leading up to the exhibit opening Amstutz and Diane Hartman, administrative assistant to the superintendent, selected and purchased frames for each piece using privately donated funds. Amstutz, Blattel and Thorley then spent two days professionally framing each piece.
All four volunteer their time to make sure that each piece is framed perfectly. The beautifully framed works of art are then presented to the students at the close of the exhibit.
Published: October 4, 2011