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Sixth graders raved about the permanent end-of-year project
Sixth graders raved about the permanent end-of-year project
Ridgefield sixth graders create a permanent art mural before leaving elementary school for last time (Photo) - 07/21/14
Monday, July 21, 2014-Ridgefield, WA-Sixth graders at Union Ridge Elementary School make their mark on the school before leaving for middle school in an end-of-year art project where all exiting students have the opportunity to help paint a permanent mural on one of the school's exterior walls.

Alan Adams, Union Ridge's art teacher, came up with the idea of having exiting sixth graders paint a lasting mural and started the project three years ago with each class creating a different mural since then. "We wanted to give our students an opportunity to create a legacy piece that they would leave behind," said Adams. "In the past, students painted tiles for the interior hallways, but these full murals add a little more pizazz."

Adams based this year's theme, a surreal representation of a solar eclipse, on the works of Alma Thomas, an abstract painter and art educator who specialized in expressionism. Students helped paint the moon eclipsing the sun with concentric circles of color emanating from the center.

Before letting the students loose with paintbrushes, Adams carefully explains the care needed when painting with permanent paint unlike water colors or washable paints where messes are more easily cleaned up. After demonstrating how to paint, students form groups of three and fill in the mural.

Watching students develop their own intrinsic styles inspires Adams to develop innovative projects. "I enjoy hearing what students think and seeing how they express themselves," he said. "Students will take project ideas in completely different directions, and watching these kids grow up from second grade year after year is a very cool and unique experience."

The sixth graders raved about the mural project. "The mural is my favorite project because I like making a permanent part of the school," said Rossaline Asquith. "The mural is my favorite project," agreed Hunter Jackson, a classmate. "It's outside where all the other students can see and it will be here forever."

The students point to Adams as inspiring them to take more chances and to take their artwork seriously. "Mr. Adams is a really good teacher - he really understands students and helps us out," said Asquith. Alli Hook, a classmate, agreed, "Mr. Adams takes things seriously and makes sure students take on responsibility."

Visitors can see the three sixth grade murals on the eastern-facing wall of Union Ridge Elementary School near the playground.

Megan Gibert and Logan Summers won awards at this year's 5th Avenue Awards
Megan Gibert and Logan Summers won awards at this year's 5th Avenue Awards
Two Ridgefield High School students win awards at the annual 5th Avenue Awards (Photo) - 07/14/14
Monday, July 14, 2014-Ridgefield, WA-Two Ridgefield High School students, Megan Gibert and Logan Summers, received awards at the 5th Avenue 2014 Awards, an award ceremony honoring high school musical theater throughout Washington State put on by the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle, Washington.

Evaluators from around Washington State attended 121 high school musical theater productions to select the student nominees for the awards. "The 5th Avenue Awards are our state's Tony Awards for high school musical theater," explained Bob Meek, Ridgefield High School's Drama and Choir teacher.

Megan Gibert, a junior during the 2013-14 school year, received an Honorable Mention for Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role playing Jo March in the high school's performance of Little Women. Gibert started performing in plays four years ago with the Christian Youth Theater in the summer before performing in the high school's production of Guys and Dolls in eighth grade. "I like being able to put on a different face for a while and portray someone else," she said. "I find a lot of things I have in common with the character, and, often, I discover new things about myself, too."

Logan Summers, a freshman during the 2013-14 school year, received an Honorable Mention for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role by playing Laurie Laurence, also in Little Women. This year was Summers' first time performing in drama. "I've wanted to be an actor for some time because I thought it'd be cool to change costumes and live in that kind of world," he said. "I think one of the coolest parts of acting is seeing our classmates get into their parts with us."

Both students point to Meek as helping them hone their acting skills and win their awards. "Meek's a great director because he encourages us to explore our characters and develop our own roles," said Gibert. Summers agreed, "Meek is hilarious - it's obvious he loves what he does."

The 5th Avenue Theatre announced the award winners on May 20, 2014 and presented the awards in a ceremony on Monday, June 9 at Benaroya Hall. The 5th Avenue Theatre supports several education and outreach programs for youth, students and the community including the annual 5th Avenue Awards. More information can be found via their website at www.5thavenue.org.

Michelle Kurowski purchased a slab roller for students to use in their ceramic projects
Michelle Kurowski purchased a slab roller for students to use in their ceramic projects
Anonymous donor helps fund art education throughout Ridgefield School District (Photo) - 07/07/14
Monday, July 7, 2014-Ridgefield, WA-The Ridgefield Public Schools Foundation received a $1,500 donation to fund grants for the art programs of all four Ridgefield schools in the 2013-2014 school year.

The donation was provided by a single donor who preferred to remain anonymous. "The foundation worked closely with the donor to develop a grant application, solicit grant requests and review the applications," said Paul Lewis, President of the foundation. "Dedicated community members and donors help enrich our students' learning experiences by making the foundation's programs possible."

The anonymous donation funded the following projects:

* At Ridgefield High School, Rebecca Carlisle received $500 to purchase new tools and materials including glazes for the ceramics studio
* At View Ridge Middle School, Michelle Kurowski received $500 to purchase a portable clay slab roller which enabled students to create new kinds of ceramic art
* At Union Ridge Elementary School, Alan Adams received $250 to purchase a clay extruder to help create pots and cups
* At South Ridge Elementary School, Heather Fukuchi received $250 to buy books and examples of art for her Art From Around the World class project

Students at View Ridge Middle School used the new clay slab roller to create mirrors. "All of the art students got a chance to use the slab roller this year," said Michelle Kurowski, art teacher. "In addition, since the roller is portable, we can take it to other schools for their art classes next year, too."

At South Ridge Elementary School, Heather Fukuchi, art teacher, used her grant to purchase actual art work from around the world. "My vision is to have a world map hung on the wall with strings attached to art from different countries," said Fukuchi. "I try to use multicultural projects from different parts of the world to teach students about different cultures."

In addition to offering an avenue for interested donors to provide funds to Ridgefield School District, the Ridgefield Public Schools Foundation offers several programs to support students' academic and social needs including Employee Appreciation Awards, Mini-Grants, the Principal's Checkbook program and student scholarships awarded to graduating seniors. Each year in August, the Foundation holds a Back-to-School golf tournament at the Tri-Mountain Golf Course in Ridgefield.

The Foundation was established in 2009 by a group of parents and volunteers looking to fund programs and services in Ridgefield schools. As an approved nonprofit organization, all individual donations are eligible for a Federal tax deduction. More information on how to participate in the mini-grants and other programs offered by the Foundation can be found on their website: www.ridgefieldpsf.org or by email to Paul Lewis at paul.lewis@ridgefieldpsf.org.