WHS Artists Collaborate with Elementary School Students

Brianna Conley

Walpole High students make art with Elementary schoolers.
Walpole High students make art with Elementary school students. (Photo/ Michael Bloom)

In the beginning of the school year, Art teacher Mrs. Willa-Ann McKee introduced her Drawing and Painting II students to a project that would take the entire year to complete. She presented them with a slideshow and let each student look through a book called “The Rest is Up to You” or TRIUTY for short.  She gave the students the task to work with the kindergartners to create a  similarly collaborative book. On May 7 and May 12, the high school students and kindergartners met twice to work on the book and to create a set for the kindergartners performance, “The Great Kapok Tree.”

The original “The Rest is Up to You” book shows the story of a third grade boy named Cohen Morano, who loves to paint and draw. His father, Aye Jay, took the paintings and drawings his son made and sent them around the world to renowned artists and illustrators to finish the pictures. To date, there are 118 finished pictures that Cohen and his dad have compiled into the book “The Rest is Up to You.”

The project encourages the kindergartners to use their imagination to start a drawing that can then be completed by an older, more experienced artist.  Mrs. Mckee also said, “The kindergartners were able to work with visual ideas in order to connect their words with pictures.”

On May 7, the high school students went to Boyden Middle School to eat lunch with the kindergartners.  Using bright colors, the artists then collaborated to make the jungle scenery for their play.  After, the students worked together on the last pages of the TRIUTY books with the kindergartners.

“The process was really fun and interesting,” junior Sarah Giampa said. “It was a lot different from any of our other projects throughout the year and meant more to help the kindergartners.”

On Monday, May 12, the kindergartners came to the high school. Together, all of the students and kids ate lunch outside of the school on the grass near the cafeteria. Next, everyone went to Mrs. McKee’s room and the kindergartners learned about symmetry. With the help of the high school artists, each kindergartner created a butterfly as part of the background for their play.

After the butterflies were completed, all of the students and kindergartners looked through a slideshow before the kindergartners returned to Boyden.

On Wednesday, May 21, Mrs. McKee delivered the finished books to the kindergartners. Each book had a laminated cover with the child’s name on the front. Each high school student designed at least one cover to make it more bright and intriguing.

The project is a learning experience for the kindergartners and the high school students and will be a continued program in upcoming years.

“The goal for the high schoolers was to embrace and enjoy the process of art making, while being less inhibited in the process,” Mrs. McKee said.  “They also could rediscover the excitement that kindergartners  have while making art without the pressure of the high school art curriculum.”