March 1 kicks off the start of Youth Art Month! Youth Art Month (YAM) takes place throughout the month of March to emphasize the value of children’s art education and the presence of quality art programs within public schools. YAM gives us the opportunity to highlight the work of HSD art teachers and students. Let’s take a look at what Ms. O’Neill-Bratt and Ms. Marano’s students have been working on in Hockinson Heights Elementary School and Hockinson Middle School.
Hockinson Heights Elementary School’s visual art program serves transitional kindergarten students through fifth graders. Most recently, O’Neill-Bratt’s students have been dabbling in ceramics. From making slab hearts in Transitional Kindergarten (TK) to coil pots in fifth grade, the clay learning experience has been popular amongst HHES students. For O’Neill-Bratt, watching students’ expressions when they first see their glazed sculptures is one of the most rewarding aspects of teaching visual arts.
At Hockinson Middle School, students can take Marano’s drawing and painting, art exploration, and sculpture classes. Drawing and painting students spent the bulk of fall semester learning how to draw groups of objects accurately. They focused on close observation and used grids, measurements, and ratios to draw subjects realistically even when enlarging. In sculpting class, students were tasked with building a collaborative sculpture using only five sheets of construction paper and three materials, including tape or metal brads. Students created standing sculptures that varied from a giraffe to a bouquet of flowers.
“Students do not learn creative thinking when they are asked to find a way to a preset conclusion. It happens when they are allowed and encouraged to take creative risks and celebrate the results either way,” Marano said.
HMS art exploration students explore new ideas, materials, and art creation methods by using traditional art materials in new ways and experimenting with new materials. Later in the semester, students will be drawing a creature of their choice using a combination of newly learned materials and methods to create a specific texture or pattern. Last fall, Marano’s students created posters for a contest Hockinson’s PWT ran for October’s Bullying Prevention Month. Students’ collaborative brainstorming brought out discussions on empathy and attentiveness to what fellow peers may be going through, and their posters were displayed around the school.
“Providing art experiences is so important in our schools. Opportunities to shine and succeed through visual art, music, and the performing arts give students yet another chance to make a positive connection with their educational experience,” O’Neill-Bratt said.
When asked to recall one fond memory over her years of teaching art within Hockinson School District, Ms. Marano remembered one student she taught years ago. The boy’s mother enrolled her son in Marano’s art classes each year at HMS in hopes he would develop an appreciation for the arts after trips to museums left him seemingly uninterested.
“When I first became an art teacher, I wondered what to do with students who didn’t ‘like’ art but learned early on that the challenge to change their mind was probably my favorite part of the job,” Marano said. “I told him that any student in my class that wasn’t excited to be there was an opportunity for me to change their mind about art. He very flatly told me, ‘Good luck.’”
Near the end of eighth grade and the second half of sculpture class, he began asking for Marano’s input and came in after school for extra work time. On the last day of middle school, he left a handwritten note on Marano’s desk telling her that she “won,” that he really enjoyed the second half of sculpture class, and that he even elected to take two art classes during his freshman year of high school.
Visual and performing arts are supported by the Hockinson School Levy. Thank you to our generous community for supporting these important student-centered programs! Hockinson art students are spending Youth Art Month preparing for the District Visual Arts Show taking place on May 12 from 5:30-7:00 p.m. Pictured below is a budding HHES artist showing her work at the 2022 show. Be sure to mark your calendars! Artwork from TK through 12 grade will be displayed. View some of the artwork shown at the 2019 show here. Thank you to all art teachers at Hockinson School District for fostering creativity within students. Pictured below from left to right: Heather Christian (21-22), Lori-Ann Marano (HMS), Nancy O’Neill-Bratt (HHES), Tanya Hochhalter (HSD), Sonja Einerson (HHES).