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Students Get Creative At Enrichment Workshops



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Students Get Creative At Enrichment Workshops

By Larissa Lytwyn

Shaping a slab of earth-colored clay with marked deftness for a girl in first grade, Kristina Tolkuci talks about her desire to make a pin for her mother.

“It’s going to be fun!” she declared. “I love playing with clay!”

Kristina was just one of about 20 equally enthusiastic young sculptors engaging in Hawley Elementary School’s six week “enrichment workshops.”

Alluding to the tight curricular structure a teacher works under in relation to the No Child Left Behind Act and other state and federal requirements, lead teacher Judy Pesce described the workshops as a welcome “release” for students and faculty alike.

Young grade-school students, she said, frequently spend more time studying for tests than participating regularly in educational, creative play.

Faculty members designed the enrichment workshops last fall. In addition to sculpting, students chose to participate in workshops including drawing, jewelry making, Lego-building, painting, and even puppetry. Each workshop’s level of sophistication was based on the student’s grade level.

“It’s a big schoolwide effort,” Ms Pesce continued. “We have a lot of participation from [parent] volunteers and our educational assistants.”

Ms Pesce, along with teacher Linda Giordano, is conducting the workshop on puppetry. Each week students create puppets from different materials.

Recently they designed puppets from paper plates using markers, glue, glitter, and other inventive resources.

Jill Beaudry, whose daughter attends Hawley, is a parent volunteer conducting the clay-sculpting workshop.

Ms Beaudry is very familiar with being in front of a classroom.

“I used to be a grade school teacher in Hartford,” she said. Working with educational assistant Maria Ross, Ms Beaudry recently taught students how to make jewelry pins using tiny silver clasps, clay, and paint.

The physical design portion of the project is expected to take two or three sessions. Ms Beaudry will then bake the pins in a kiln and apply a finishing touch of protective gloss.

She urged students to consider upcoming holidays such as Easter, Passover, and Mothers’ Day when deciding for whom to make pins.

“Everyone will be making two pins,” Ms Beaudry explained. “Maybe you can keep one and give the other to a friend or a parent!”

She showed students an example of using the blue-and-lavender rose pin attached to her lapel, a gift from her daughter.

“Now, you don’t have to make roses,” she said. “You can choose any design you want.”

“Can we make a hockey stick?” one student asked.

“You sure can,” she patiently replied.

“Cool!” the student cheered.

Describing the clay as “squishy,” second grader Ben Payne was eager to get started. “I’m not sure what I’m going to make yet,” he said, “but it will be good!”

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