This Art Day Has a Latin Edge at San Jose Episcopal; It's Because That Has Been the Focus of the School's Global Studies

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Byline: SANDY STRICKLAND

It was "Sweet Home Alabama" like you've never heard it before. This version had a Latin flavor, with kids shaking maracas made from dried gourds and tapping wooden sticks. There were even a couple of kids dressed in Peruvian costumes.

But the Southern anthem had the same rousing reaction it always does.

Students at San Jose Episcopal Day School clapped their hands, swayed to the infectious beat and even strummed imaginary guitars.

Before breaking into the familiar refrain, the group of dads making up the band asked if anyone knew who created the song.

"Skinnard Leonard," one student said.

"Well, close," a band member replied, pointing out the flip-flopping of the name, Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Grooving with the band is always a highlight of Art Day at the San Jose Boulevard school.

This year's theme was "Latin America," in recognition of the school's global studies curriculum, said Valerie Brown, the school's communications director. Students were given a passport, which they got stamped in each "country" after completing a folk art project.

Every half hour, they traveled to a different nation, but they made the most of their cultural smorgasbord. In Mexico, for example, they did Aztec print making, decorated mosaic masks and made a chocolate box by coloring Aztec designs on a cardboard box, adding a tassel and filling the box with the dark candy. In Chile, they created tinfoil rain shakes; in Peru, they did weavings.

Almost 50 volunteers started planning for the annual event in early November, said Libby Kelly, who coordinated the project with another parent, Pamela Wehde.

One practiced his own profession. Artist John Beard talked with the students about light, shadow, shapes, discovering their own style and applying the paint brush to the canvas to create intriguing random patterns.

Sarah Claire Bernhardt said she's good at creating random patterns while Alicia Bilotti's style leaned more to the traditional - a realistic-looking horse. …