Adopt-a-School project shows broad lessons through arts

Fourth-grade students in Oswego’s Kingsford Park Elementary are learning about art, community history and other subjects in the first Adopt-a-School partnership for the School of Communication, Media and the Arts.

The results—drawings of local noteworthy buildings—will hang in Tyler Art Gallery starting March 26 in the Kingsford Park Elementary Project exhibition.

4th-grade student drawing.The partnership program supports several CMA goals, including finding meaningful ways to assist local schools and artists, teaching college students about the importance of sharing talent and time in the community, and introducing the academic and artistic culture of a college campus to young students. Future partnerships may touch on other areas of performing arts at other schools around the community.

“We have resources at the college that can benefit local schools,” said Julie Pretzat, interim associate CMA dean. “With the tightening of budgets for the arts everywhere, this is a way we can help.”

Historical architecture

At Kingsford Park, Lisa Langlois of the art faculty and visiting artist Joe Rial visited Laurie Yule’s fourth-grade classes working on local history components. Langlois gave a PowerPoint “tour” of prominent buildings, and she and Rial explained the history and architectural styles of the edifices.

The CMA Adopt-a-School project shows “the arts are integral to all learners, not just in art,” Langlois said. Kingsford Park students learned about local history from Oswego’s settlement and development, economics in the forces that influenced the creation of the community and its buildings, civics and government from the role of its administrative buildings, and math in the form of scale and perspective, among other lessons.

When talking about the Oswego Public Library, for example, Langlois said discussion about how benefactor Gerrit Smith declared in the 1850s that it be available to patrons of all races, and why this was unusual at the time, gave a variety of historical and social lessons.

By breaking drawing down to different architectural features and interjecting things like proportion, repetition and contrast, Rial said he found the students picking up elements quickly and grasping the larger concepts fluently.

Rial said he was “very pleased” with the students’ effort, attitude and seriousness. “They really responded well,” he said. “The level of drawing these kids have rivals what I’ve seen in some high schools or even colleges.”

He added that Yule’s work and cooperation was “a great part of the success of the program,” which benefitted everyone from students to teachers.

Campus VIPs

While the 68 students and their families—as well as the campus and community—are invited to the exhibition’s public opening from 5 to 7 p.m. March 26, the young artists will visit Tyler separately for a private showing, tour and punch-and-cookies reception.

The students’ exhibition will run through April 11, concurrent with the Spring Master of Arts Thesis Exhibition and the “Generations II” MAT exhibition.

A pair of SUNY Oswego student organizations, Arts Alive and Breakthru Design, proved helpful, Langlois said, with members going to Kingsford Park three times a week to help youngsters with their creations. College students helping fourth graders at Kingsford Park included Toni Burrows, Lauren Burke, Catherine McCarthy, Breanne Regano, Michael Sturdevant and Beth Swenson.

Student volunteers also will hang the show, help promote it and take pictures to make open-date calendars featuring the work, which they will give to the young artists.

CMA received additional funding support for the Adopt-a-School project from Alliance Bank and the college’s School of Education and Women’s Center.

PHOTO CAPTION: Creative hands—A fourth-grade student at Kingsford Park Elementary works on a drawing for an exhibition opening in Tyler Art Gallery later this month. Members of the college community are working with 68 elementary-school students at Kingsford Park in the first Adopt-a-School partnership by Oswego’s School of Communication, Media and the Arts.

(Posted: Feb 26, 2010)