Galt’s Art stu­dents get busy!

Stanstead Journal - - FRONT PAGE - Vic­to­ria Vanier, Len­noxville

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.

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