Artists nurture young creativity at Central School
by Denise Ellen Rizzo
Sep 26, 2013 | 1544 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Central Elementary School second-grader Ryan Tarantino shows off his orange hands after working on an art project using colored chalk Friday, Sept. 20. Denise Ellen Rizzo/Tracy Press
Central Elementary School second-grader Ryan Tarantino shows off his orange hands after working on an art project using colored chalk Friday, Sept. 20. Denise Ellen Rizzo/Tracy Press
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Art teacher Christina McCollam-Martinez shows examples of American modern art to students in Diane Kikes’ second-grade class at Central Elementary School on Friday, Sept. 20, as part of a new art program at the school.  Denise Ellen Rizzo/Tracy Press
Art teacher Christina McCollam-Martinez shows examples of American modern art to students in Diane Kikes’ second-grade class at Central Elementary School on Friday, Sept. 20, as part of a new art program at the school. Denise Ellen Rizzo/Tracy Press
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Central Elementary School second-grader Bryan Gonzalez created a chalk drawing during an art class with Christina McCollam-Martinez on Friday, Sept. 20. McCollam-Martinez is one of four artists teaching four weeks of art lessons to each Central classroom between September and January.  Denise Ellen Rizzo/Tracy Press
Central Elementary School second-grader Bryan Gonzalez created a chalk drawing during an art class with Christina McCollam-Martinez on Friday, Sept. 20. McCollam-Martinez is one of four artists teaching four weeks of art lessons to each Central classroom between September and January. Denise Ellen Rizzo/Tracy Press
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With a yellow stick of chalk in his hand, second-grader Andrew Shipman tried his best to emulate a drawing by his art teacher, Christine McCollam-Martinez, during a class Friday, Sept. 20, at Central Elementary School.

“It’s fun to go to art class,” Andrew said as he filled in portions of his drawing using markers and colored chalk. “I like painting.”

Through a program called Artist-in-Residence, three artists — McCollam-Martinez, Mario Tehada and Patti Kennedy — are taking turns teaching classes once a week for four weeks.

On Friday, McCollam-Martinez wrapped up a lesson on Pablo Picasso’s cubism with the second-grade class of Diane Kikes.

“I think it’s wonderful,” Kikes said. “Art is an opportunity for everyone to be successful. They all start with the same materials and they all come out different, but everybody’s art looks good.”

The children’s assignment was to color the clay faces they made the previous week and begin a drawing lesson on modern art using examples by artist Georgia O’Keeffe.

“My favorite part is drawing,” said second-grader Bonnie Rickman as she colored a portion of her clay face. “I liked the clay. You can play with it. It’s hard, but fun.”

McCollam-Martinez said her objective was to teach various art forms and movements throughout history. She planned to introduce the first- and second-graders to impressionism, cubism, modern art and expressionism during their four weeks of art classes.

“It’s about form and learning how to do it,” she said. “Each week we do a project. I try to make it fun.”

The program was introduced to Central by teacher Mary Petty, who learned about it while teaching at Hirsch Elementary School a few years ago.

A Boys & Girls Clubs of Tracy liaison, Petty started weekly art programs last year at the Central School clubhouse.

“It was a phenomenal program,” she said. “There are three art teachers who will teach a month of weekly lessons in different grades. This is an opportunity for us to celebrate and do more diverse things in our classrooms.”

The school is paying $3,600 for the program, which is operated by the county office of education, Petty said.

School officials also purchased $2,000 in art supplies, which she said they hope to use for a couple of years.

Principal Nancy Link said Central didn’t have an art program before Artist-in-Residence.

“I’m real excited,” she said. “I’m real excited for the kids.”

She explained that the introduction

of Common Core State Standards — which have been adopted by the state in place of the annual California Standardized Tests — means school officials can be more flexible when planning the curriculum.

“It’s pretty cool, because we’re always so focused on academics, because of the state standards,” Link said. “Art, music and science are language rich, so it’s really important to get the language introduced to them that they wouldn’t do otherwise.”

The art program, which began Sept. 4, runs through Jan. 31, Link said. The classes will include each of the 480 students in kindergarten to fifth grade at the 1370 Parker Ave. school.

• Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at 830-4225 or drizzo@tracypress.com.

 
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