Pine Forest Students Really Dig Their Art Class; All Grades Focus on Greece, History

Article excerpt

Byline: Sandy Strickland, Times-Union staff writer

As she dug through a huge mound of sand on a steamy afternoon, Breanna Schmoll felt something sharp underneath her. The young archaeologist jumped up, admittedly excited and a little anxious.

She and partner Sarah Van Pelt began furiously uncovering their "find." They pulled out what they speculated could be a dinosaur or a human hip bone. They let their imaginations take flight as they examined the sandy relic.

"It was so weird," Sarah said. "We cracked up laughing because we were digging for stuff, and here she sat on it."

The 10-year-olds were among a group of students at Pine Forest Elementary School on the Southside who participated in the excavation as part of a class project. It was the culminating event of a nine-week art series on ancient Greece. Pine Forest is a magnet arts school that draws students from Southside, Mandarin, Arlington and other areas.

It didn't matter that the sand was trucked in, that they were at the back of their Grant Road school and the "artifacts" were only a few years old. With the sun beating down and a shovel in their hands, several said they might as well have been on an actual dig.

"You're still finding stuff, and it feels like you're a real archaeologist," said 9-year-old Madison Gambrell of Mandarin. "I know how hard it is to find something. I think they had a lot of discipline to go out there when it's hot and your back hurts when you bend down."

With the summer Olympics in Athens this year, art teacher Mary Ann Miller figured it was the perfect time for such a project. She and several parents supplied the bounty, which included bones, shells, coins, pottery pieces, broken plates and cups. Never fear. The bones came from a grocery store butcher.

Pine Forest's eight fourth- and fifth-grade classes participated in the dig. The items were re-buried each day so the next class could dig them up again, Miller said.

The students prepared by watching a National Gallery of Art video showing Egyptian archaeologists working in the desert with shovels and picks and then Howard Carter's climactic opening of King Tut's tomb in 1922. …


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