Galt’s Art students get busy!
Last month, during “Hooked on School” days, students in Alexander Galt High School’s Art Concentration Program set up a special art installation in the school’s cafeteria. During an overnight ‘make art till you drop’ event, the students had a mission: to create an area in the cafeteria to represent the school community. “The students started the work on a Friday afternoon, made their own supper, slept here overnight, and continued to work until about noon on Saturday. It was their creation and they had to come up with their own materials, and work together as a team,” explained art teacher Sigal Hirshfeld Gandey.
“The students made three different trees,” explained April Blampied, the art teacher who created the Art Concentration Program, now in its second year, along with Ms. Gandey. One of the trees is a large sculpture made with chicken wire and craft paper. The leaves on this tree are
very special: every student in the school wrote inspiring words about the importance of education and personal dreams on leaves which were then attached to the tree by the art students. “That tree looks like a willow tree,” added Ms. Blampied.
The second tree was painted on a wall, in shades of black, grey and white, and is filled with words. At the bottom of the tree, the words relate to elementary school, then, towards the middle, the words are about high school. As we move to the branches the words turn white and begin to reflect the students’ wishes for the future. An original quote by student Loic Mercier Arguin, which hangs beside the tree, fit beautifully with the theme: “Life is a tree of possibilities; The seed is your education.” “That beautiful quote became the mantra for our project,” admitted Ms. Gandey.
The third tree was created on some of the large windows in the cafeteria and is made out of colored tissue paper for a stained glass effect. “That tree was created to represent the ‘spirit’ of Galt,” said Ms. Gandey.
Galt’s Art Concentration Program, now in its second year, offers almost twice as much art instruction as a regular high school art program, about 25% of each cycle, several field trips and workshops with visiting artists. “This year we’ve visited the Musée des Beaux Arts in Quebec City, made shorter trips to Sherbrooke and North Hatley, and we will be going to Montreal soon to visit the College Inter-Dec’s digital arts and interior design programs and the McGill School of Architecture. One reason we do field trips is to give the students a chance to see career opportunities,” said Ms. Gandey. “We visit art programs at universities, as well.”
“We had seventeen students enrolled in the program the first year, and now we have twenty students. That’s an excellent size because we want to keep the classes small, to focus on the individual skills and needs of each student,” commented Ms. Blampied who is presently on maternity leave and being replaced by art teacher Peggy-Ann Boucher.
According to Ms. Blampied, the Art Concentration Program gives students a reason to enjoy school and helps motivate them as they must have at least 70% in their other courses to stay in the program. “We use one study block per cycle to help the students with their other courses. But we believe that if we can get the students to focus on their passion, art, then we can get them through high school.”
To enroll in this program, students must pay an extra fee, around $500, to cover all the field trips and extra art materials, unfortunately making the program too expensive for some. “Some teachers and community members have donated to the program so that students without the means can still enroll. But we’re still in need of more sponsors to help pay for the program,” concluded Ms. Blampied.
Some of the Galt students from the Art Concentration Program who worked on the “Hooked on School” installation ham it up in front of the tree sculpture.
This tree, created by Galt Art students, represents the spirit of the Galt community.