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By Lisa Moore
Hometown Weekly Correspondent
The WMS held its second annual Artist Day this past week, a multidiscipline project highlighting experiences learned in eighth-grade English and history classes. For their English classes, each student completed an artist project in which they reviewed several artists, chose one artist to research in detail, and then created an original work of art that highlights the style of their artist and conveys a message about life or human nature. The project is designed to enhance each student’s research skills and give the students an opportunity to demonstrate an understanding of symbolism, topic, theme, and other literary or artistic elements that were studied during the year.
The students created many unique works of art, experimenting with different media and styles. Ms. Smoler, an English teacher at WMS, had this to say about the Artist Project.
“This is a good opportunity for students to express themselves. For some, they must step out of their comfort zone. In the beginning of the unit, some students were anxious or overwhelmed, but at the end created a powerful presentation, tapping into the curriculum with their own point of view, using their own strengths.”
For the history component, students were tasked with a “Facing History Project.” The students first used the Holocaust as a case study in human behavior to ask questions about human nature, the choices we make as individuals and groups, peoples’ willingness to lead or be led by others, and power and propaganda. The students were asked to think about how to remember history, how people are judged and how to keep history from repeating itself. Each student was responsible for creating a Holocaust memorial or project using experiences they had in the Facing History unit. They then presented their work to visiting students, staff and families.
The eighth graders chose which work of art they wanted to showcase and presented their work, explaining the message they wished to convey through their art. “Today was really impressive,” said Mr. Chute, an eighth-grade history teacher. “Students revealed how thoughtful they were and used a lot of critical thinking skills which we promote at the middle school. I appreciate the effort each student put into his or her artwork. There were many outstanding pieces and they all showed a lot of effort, and put their best foot forward.”
Last year, the event was held in the evening, which was attended mostly by parents. This year, the event was held during school hours, allowing not just parents to come and view the work, but the student body and teaching staff as well. “This serves as an example to the younger students about what is coming up for them,” added Mr. Chute.
It was impressive watching students present their artwork and sharing the meaning and symbolism behind it. Seeing students actively engaged with their peers in serious conversations related to complex topics and feelings was as powerful as some of the artwork itself.