From scarecrows to iPads, from the Coast Union High School campus to Santa Barbara, students in Suzette Morrow’s classes at the high school and Santa Lucia Middle School learned plenty about art this past school year.
And there’s more where that came from: Morrow’s already planning for the coming school year, she told district trustees in a presentation to the Coast Unified board Thursday, June 25.
Morrow began her presentation by detailing three goals of the district’s visual and performing arts program:
- To gain a knowledge of works of art with close observation in order to create and perform.
- To expand arts literacy through understanding of social, political, cultural, scientific and economic contexts of works across disciplines.
- To develop a lifelong curiosity and appreciation of the arts.
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Students achieved these goals, she said, through a variety of activities and exercises.
Among them was the students’ involvement in the Cambria Scarecrow Festival, which Morrow said raised $3,200 for the art program via rentals of student-created scarecrows to local businesses. That money paid for materials such as clay and ceramics glaze used in the program for the rest of the year, she said, and the students learned valuable problem-solving skills in the process.
“The students work on the concept the business owner wants for their scarecrows, and that takes a lot of problem-solving,” she told the board. “These are the tools, here are the supplies you have. How can you make that happen?”
One team of students, for example, had to work hard to make a scarecrow stay in its seat.
The scarecrow-building, Morrow said, was one example of an activity that taught students not only about art, but also about another discipline: in this case, raising money.
In another exercise, students not only created art representing their identity but also posted their work and wrote about it online.
Another exercise focused on tactile interpretation: “Children draw on the back of the student in front of them, and those students draw what they think they’re feeling on their iPad,” Morrow explained.
Other activities involved visits to a field trip to the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and zoo, an exercise in following step-by-step instructions to create animals out of work gloves, and participation in the annual Youth Art Show. A middle school program taught students about different flowers and how to care for them; the students then painted a water tank on campus with representations of those flowers.
Morrow said she wanted to focus in the coming school year on more cross-disciplinary activities with teachers in other fields, and on asking the question, “Is art imitating life, or is life imitating art?”