The Star Democrat
Easton Elementary names Academy Art Museum ‘Community Partner of the Year’
EASTON — A partnership between Academy Art Museum and Easton Elementary School culminated in the “Puzzle Reveal,” which took place during the school’s annual “Grandfriends Evening” in November. The event celebrated nearly a year of planning and collaborating.
In January 2021, Lauren Harton, president of the Easton Elementary School PTO, approached Constance Del Nero, director of children’s education and community programs at the Academy Art Museum. Harton and Del Nero began working on a project that could involve all students, including those learning from home.
“Thinking of our community as a lovely mosaic of children and families, I immediately thought of making giant puzzles,” Del Nero said. “All 1100 students would be given a puzzle piece on which to draw or design a meaningful feeling or thought. After touring the gorgeous new school building, which features a decorative hexagon motif, I thought a series of hexagons would work well. We also added a few paw print-shaped puzzles, as a paw print is part of the school logo.”
The museum commissioned 18 four-foot puzzles from an artisan through Etsy. Once the puzzles arrived, they needed to be primed and painted. Harton found several families to help with the project. Art teachers Katie Frase, Anna Madachik and Jeremy Joseph worked with students on their designs. Local carpenter Adam Theeke made wooden bases and mounted the puzzles. The finished puzzles then needed to be varnished, and Harton again found families to help. Finally, school personnel hung the puzzles in the hallways and the cafeteria, adding color and creativity to the walls.
When Easton Elementary School recognized Academy Art Museum as their Community Partner of the Year for 2021, Principal Lisa Devaric expressed her appreciation to Del Nero and the museum for their commitment to children.
“Ms. Del Nero has been a friend to Easton Elementary for many years,” Devaric said. “She has partnered with our kindergarten classes to create masterful pieces of art. When the pandemic hit, Ms. Del Nero and the Academy Art Museum didn’t miss a beat, providing a box of art supplies to each child. Ms. Del Nero and her colleagues showed up each Friday faithfully. The puzzle project symbolizes two schools coming together as one and a community coming back together during and after a pandemic, and will beautify Easton Elementary School for many years to come. Thank you, Constance Del Nero and the Academy Art Museum for being our dedicated partner in educating the whole child.”
Harton and the PTO also extended their appreciation for Del Nero’s contribution to the program.
“The PTO is so proud of the beautiful puzzles that our whole community created together,” Harton said. “I cannot thank Constance from the Academy Art museum enough for her time, resources and vision. The project was a success because of the amazing relationships between the PTO, EES staff and our community. I hope all of the EES families get to find their child’s piece of the puzzle and feel connected to each other.”