Art is Elementary

While enjoying the parade or the Dutch dinner that are hallmarks of the annual Holland Happening that takes place this week, folks will also be able to appreciate some locally-produced art.

The sculptures and painting that will line the storefronts on Pioneer Way for the artwalk were created by elementary school students in the Oak Harbor School District.

While the students learned techniques to produce their work, they also learned about subjects that meet the Washington State Essential Academic Learning Requirements.

Karen Merrill, an art teacher at Oak Harbor Elementary School, said she often coordinates her student projects with other teachers’ efforts. Math, science and social studies are combined with her students’ art projects.

She is putting together the artwalk along with the other elementary school art teachers, including Carla Field at Hillcrest Elementary, Christine Dixon at Crescent Harbor Elementary, Claire O’Connell at Clover Valley Elementary, Nicolette Harrington at Olympic View Elementary, and Alice Kapka at Broad View Elementary.

Student projects at Oak Harbor Elementary School ranged from sculptures about the state of Washington, to learning about wildlife in this area.

Oak Harbor Elementary School fifth grader Caytie Matthews was part of a group of students who produced paintings based on the artist Winslow Homer. The project also turned into a bit of a history lesson.

“We were trying to explain what the explorers went through,” she said of her seascape complete with boats and sea creatures.

Fellow fifth grader Zackary Ayer created sculptures that are reminiscent of signs found in front of 19th century stores.

Student Dianne Tonini was one of several student who produced a number of pastels that highlight the geology of Washington state.

The artwalk takes place every day during Holland Happening. The participants will enjoy a reception at Big Cup Espresso Thursday evening.

This is the third year of the artwalk that originally started in the storefront now occupied by Whidbey Wildbirds. It’s grown every year.

“Now we have more people involved,” Merrill said, adding it has expanded throughout the businesses in downtown Oak Harbor.

The artwalk begins Thursday. April 22 and continues through Tuesday, April 27.

One aspect that helped the elementary school art program is the $1.5 million maintenance and operations levy that voters passed in 2001.

Merrill said that the levy was crucial in funding teachers and the supplies needed for the students to produce the artwork.

You can reach News-Times reporter Nathan Whalen at nwhalen@whidbey

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