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Draper Journal

Willow Springs’ students’ talent showcased in art show

Aug 10, 2023 11:35AM ● By Julie Slama

Hundreds of students and their families came to see students’ art showcased at Willow Springs Elementary. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

Brody Higley is a fifth grader at Willow Springs Elementary.

“I like drawing, painting and making art,” he said. “I don’t really have a favorite because I like it all. We made a stop-motion robot and I’m really proud of it. I want to make more stop motions this summer.”

His first-grade sister, Lilyanna, likes working with clay.

“I made an owl out of clay,” she said. “I had to shape it, then paint it. I made mine yellow, green and pink. It’s really pretty.”

Their mother, Melinda, supports her children learning various forms of art.

“It helps their creativity and gets the kids off their tablets so they can use their brains in other ways,” she said. “I love how art brings our community together. Everyone is here to support the students and the school.”

They were viewing their artwork and other masterpieces that were displayed at Willow Spring’s art show, which showcases students’ visual art projects that are intertwined with their language arts, math, science and social studies curriculum.

For example, through art, third graders learned about printmaking to create buildings, then they incorporated their “citizenship” vocabulary in the background to make it a “kinder” village. Kindergartners used their knowledge of shapes and practiced creating pattens to make brightly colored birds. Fifth-grade students learned the science behind fired clay tiles, then created a seasonal mosaic for the school’s foyer.

Fifth-grader Keller Johnson had just looked at sculpted piggy banks and was excited about his stop-motion movie while his second-grade brother Chase was hunting for I-Spy clues around art pieces that lead to a prize.

“We had to barely move it every frame,” Keller said about the robot which was the subject of the film. “Every time you push a button, it would do something. It took a lot of time, but it was fun learning how to do it.”

His mother, Katie, was grateful for her kids’ opportunities.

“I just love the dedication and all the time that the teachers put in this,” she said. “This is amazing to see all the fun artwork and it’s all different, every class has some different design or art project. It’s good they’re given diverse opportunities like the arts and music.”

First-grader Gigi Sheik likes making several different projects, including glow-in-the-dark artwork.

“We made an octopus by using colored squares, folding long strips and cutting circles in half then gluing them to black paper,” she said. “I used a Sharpie for the face.”

Her father, Ali, said her daughter “likes to draw, doodle and engage in art to express herself.”

“I like how this show brings parents together to see the kids’ creativity and expression; you can feel a sense of community here,” he said. “The teachers care about the kids’ progression, and you can see what they learn through their art.”

Principal Marianne Watts was enjoying her last art show as she had plans to retire this summer. She has been the principal at Willow Springs for the past 10 years.

“This is absolutely fabulous,” she said as she got hugged by a student. “Our Beverley Taylor Sorenson art teacher, Mindy Van de Graaff, puts in so much effort. She plans it out before the school year. She knows exactly what the students will learn and what she’s going to reinforce from their classroom studies through art. Then, she saves the artwork so it can be displayed in this show, and by the size of the crowd, they definitely are enjoying it.”

Watts was standing near the teacher portraits that students created.

“Students create them, then someone picks out one of each of us. I don’t have a say, but they’re so good and we get to keep them. It’s a good keepsake,” she said. “This school is everything; we have such wonderful students and parents, such a great supportive community. We’re a big family. I can’t ask for better teachers. If a kindergarten teacher is struggling, you’ll see a fifth-grade teacher with their arm around him or a second-grade teacher bringing a fourth-grade teacher lunch. I always have a volunteer to cover bus duty if something happens to the person who is scheduled. We all just care about each other and especially about our students. There have been so many kind things said to me these past few days, and I’m trying my hardest not to cry. I hope people know how much I love them and what they do.” λ