Teachers Urge Students to Try Art, Creativity Painting, Sculpting, Poetry: Anything Goes

Article excerpt

Changes are happening in the art department at McCluer High School, says department chairman Fraser Leonard.

"We're being more creative," he says. "We're doing techniques and applications that a lot of schools don't get involved in."

Leonard moved up to head of the department a little more than a year ago, after two teachers retired. The two other teachers in the program, Pam Hellwege and Fred Crouch, started about that same time.

"The people who retired looked at things differently," Leonard says. "I'm trying to come up with new ideas and new concepts."

One of Leonard's new ideas is using field trips to spark students' creativity.

"We go to the train museum a lot, Laumeier Sculpture Park, the art museum, downtown - we're just all over," he said. "We're exposing students to a lot of different environments other than just school. They come up with so many concepts and ideas just from the field trips."

Leonard says the field trips are an important part of another new concept for the art department, interdisciplinary projects.

In a program called Art Speaks, students in the art and English departments are paired for an outing to the St. Louis Art Museum. The art students sketch various works of art at the museum, and the English students write poems about the works being sketched.

The poems and drawings are exhibited later that evening at the school, and prizes are awarded. The students' works are later published in a booklet.

Students in one of Hellwege's ceramic classes recently combined with students in a Spanish class to learn about the Mayan culture. After the Spanish students made a presentation on the culture, the entire group headed for the art museum to look at the Mayan collection there.

Following lunch, the students came back to the high school and the art students took over. They demonstrated how to make a plaque of a pre-Columbian warrior.

"It's one way to make history and art more relevant," Hellwege says.

"We have a tremendous amount of talent this year," Leonard adds. "We've got to keep them motivated. Field trips are a great motivator."

Another motivator, Leonard says, is encouraging students to enter contests. …