WEST MADISON — Through a collaboration with the Clay Center and renowned sculptor and actor Kevin Reese, sixth- through eighth-graders at Madison Middle School spent last week cutting, sanding, painting and assembling a swirling outdoor mobile. This one-of-a- kind sculpture was officially dedicated last Friday.
Students filled the school’s courtyard as Reese, along with three students who had worked on the sculpture throughout the week, put the finishing touches on their new moving piece of art. As the structure’s final piece – a rotating arm – quickly began spinning in the breeze, everyone erupted into applause.
Reese developed the sculpture’s design from students’ imaginative sketches and worked with them to bring their creation to life.
“The students were a major part of the entire process,” Reese said. “It is wonderful to expose students to art and help them create something that will last for a long time.”
Melissa Spratt and Eva Ellis, Madison Middle School teachers in the after school program, said working with Reese and the Clay Center was a wonderful experience for his students.
“This activity touched so many learning styles and gave the students an opportunity to do something hands-on. Mr. Reese kept the students’ attention the entire time, and they really enjoyed it and learned a lot from him,” Spratt said. “The Clay Center has been so good to us in allowing our students so many opportunities to experience new things. I speak for the entire school community when I say the Clay Center has been a wonderful educational partner for our students.”
The Clay Center has been planning the collaboration with Reese for more than two years. They will be going to Van on Nov. 5 and to Sherman on Nov. 12.
This residency program was funded by the Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation.
For more information on upcoming Clay Center programs and events, visit www.theclaycenter.org.
To learn more about Kevin Reese residency projects, visit www.schoolsculptures.com.
“We learned about Kevin Reese’s unique workshop and thought it would be an excellent opportunity to expand our outreach and include visual arts. We’ve had great success working with Guyan Valley, so this seemed like the perfect fit,” said Clay Center President and CEO Judy Wellington. “This will be an incredible learning experience for these students that they will remember for the rest of their lives, and we’re excited to be a part of it.”
Over a five-day period, the students helped measure, cut, sand and assemble the mobile. They decided together what paint colors to use and how those colors will be applied to the mobile. On the final day Friday, the students unveiled the remarkable mobile for the entire school to see.
A 21st Century Learning Center with sites at Van Junior/Senior High, Madison Middle and Sherman Junior High schools have and will provide students with added instruction in core academic subjects, a broad array of enrichment activities and additional educational services for both participating students and their families.
The program is being funded by a 21st Century Community Learning Center grant from the West Virginia Department of Education, according to Staci Leech-Cornell, 21st Century Community Learning Center Director for the Clay Center.
Boone County Schools Superintendent John Hudson said the program will enhance what students are already learning and give Boone County children an edge in key subject areas, as well as exposure to unique opportunities.
“While Boone County is relatively close to Charleston, many of our schools are located in rural areas and those students may have little exposure to cultural experiences outside their local communities,” he said. “Academic support, through tutoring and online software, will build a stronger student knowledge base of core curriculum. In addition, mentoring provided by recognized artists, musicians, scientists and other professionals will give students the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to investigate career options that may not be accessible through any other venue.”
The program’s goals include providing STEAM education – science, technology, engineering, arts and math – through art and science integration. The program is also intended to improve student achievement in reading, math and science and address life skills such as college preparation and career awareness. In addition, the program will increase parent and community involvement in the educational process. Students may be nominated for the program by school officials or fill out an application for inclusion.