It has been a week of bittersweetness.
Tuesday we had our Silent Art Auction benefiting Ms. Perkins, the lady I have been filling in for the past few weeks. The auction, a huge and embarassingly unexpected success, was the brainchild of one of our eighth graders. A few weeks ago he’d wandered into my room, explaining his idea and his reasoning behind it, I gave Ms. Perkins a pretty hard time when I was in her class, and I thought this would be a nice thing to do for her.
It began as I told my classes we’d be creating artwork that would be auctioned off to anyone in the community who wanted to drop by. They relished in the idea of being able to create whatever they wanted and helping Ms. Perkins, and I soon had collected dozens of pieces. As the artwork began to pour in, I began to wonder who besides an art teacher and perhaps the parents of these tiny artists would bid on and buy these lovingly albeit hastily created pieces…
Pieces from the community began to appear in the office as emails circulated. I contacted the high school art teacher, also a friend, and work from that campus made its way into my room. Alumni dropped by with stunning ceramics, beautiful handmade jewelry and handpainted decor, and parents sent in their own creations with their students. Suddenly I had paintings, pottery, jewelry, blankets, picture frames, busts, statues …
We haven’t tallied up all of the money from the auction yet as some of the pieces that were bid on still need to be paid for, but the latest figure I heard was nearly $400 that we had raised for Ms. Perkins. I am astounded, humbled, and touched. I am a little bit ashamed that I was praying to make at least $50 so that the kids wouldn’t feel like our efforts had been a flop.
And the artwork the students created, literally dozens, possibly over a hundred pieces? Nearly every piece sold, and it has been so rewarding to hear them proudly say in class, Someone bought my artwork. Nearly every class yesterday burst in the classroom (middle schoolers tend to make a rather noisy entrance anywhere) demanding to know the results of the auction, and the looks on their faces as I’ve been telling them how much we’ve raised for Ms. Perkins makes me so proud of their characters.
I bid on the painted pictures of the ice cream cones – who can resist any form of ice cream?! Alas, I didn’t win.
There’s a special story that goes with this piece. It was donated by an alumni of 2001, and one of my seventh grade students saw it and had to have it. She entered a fierce bidding war with a teacher here at school, who she confessed to me later she feels hates her (both my aunt, the school librarian, and I assured her this wasn’t the case) and after a hard-fought battle, she won this statue for $50. I later found out that the teacher was planning on giving this piece of art to the student had she won it, and ended up writing a check for $50 nonetheless. Half of me wants to tell the student this story, but it isn’t my place. How clueless we can sometimes be.
Here is some donated artwork from teachers and students. This is just a small sampling!
Students add a Link of Love to the chain we’ve been starting in my art classes. It nearly spans the width of my room now!
More donated artwork.
Groups kept coming in waves to the library, where the silent auction was fittingly held. This is one of the early groups – students came back later with parents in tow.
And the bitter? I found out this week (which is ironically Teacher Apprecation Week) that there are plans to cut art program at the middle school if Ms. Perkins does not return to school next year, which is most likely the case. Instead, all sixth grade students will have an extra period of math and seventh and eighth graders will have one less elective to choose from. Additionally, because of new state ‘requirements’, students must now choose between band and P.E., as P.E. is no longer required to the degree it used to be.
I am frustrated on so many levels. Why, if obesity is such a problem in America, are we not requiring physical activity during the day? This is a wonderful opportunity to teach kids the importance of a healthy lifestyle. Instead we send a different message – choose athleticism or creativity. I know this is above administration at this particular school – this is a new state requirement. I am frustrated that TAKS scores are valued above teaching kids to think creatively and develop their problem-solving skills – that we tell them memorizing facts and formulas and curriculum is more important than being able to develop and communicate new ideas. As my soon-to-be mother-in-law said, “…soon we’ll all just be robots without a creative idea in our heads.” I really hope, for the kids’ sake, that they re-think their dismissal of the art program. Additionally, the high school that the students will be attending in the next few years has an outstanding art program that is annually recognized at state-level competitions… why cut the roots of that program when they need to be nourished?