Thomas Jefferson Elementary will be the grooviest place in Newton Tuesday night. More than 250 people will have a chance to create their own tie-dyed creations, the second in a series of elementary art nights hosted by the Newton Community School District.
Art night, the brainchild of elementary art teachers Nicki Hornbaker and Katherine Craney, gives students an opportunity to work on art projects outside of the classroom. Designed as a family-friendly activity, students will have a chance to bring family members along for the ride and Craney said everyone who participates will have a chance to tie-dye something.
“We just wanted to get people making art together, to have fun while making art,” Craney said. “Its open to the whole family, if it’s a family of seven and they provide seven shirts everyone gets to make one.”
The first Fall Art Night, organized by Hornbaker and Craney, was a hit. A crowd comprised of 173 people, including students, their parents and their siblings, turned out for the first of two art nights this year. During the fall art night, students got to paint and decorate their own pumpkins. Hornbaker said the goal of art night is to give students a chance to work on projects that would be too expensive or too difficult to pull off during class time.
“Just getting to see the kids experimenting with a media we don’t get to use in the classroom,” Hornbaker said. “It’s a little bit messy and not easy to do in the classroom, they get to share that experience with their parents, as well.”
With registration closing Friday, both art teachers said they’re excited to see the program continue to grow. They had to add extra time slots this year to make sure everyone had a chance to participate. Thanks to a grant from the Newton Community Education Foundation, the school is able to supply the dyes, something they wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.
“The dyes are a little bit pricier, so it’s nice to get a grant,” Craney said.
Students have already started to bring in their shirts, but both Craney and Hornbaker said the shirts aren’t the only items that students have brought in. Shoes, shorts, baby clothes and T-shirts of all shapes and sizes were stacked up in the corner of Craney’s art classroom Friday afternoon at Thomas Jefferson Elementary.
“One student brought in a pillowcase, which I think is going to be really cool,” Hornbaker said. “The pillowcase, that’s something they won’t outgrow, they’ll have that with them for a long time.”
Even though Hornbaker is moving to a new position at the high school next year, both teachers said they’d like to keep the program going. Craney said she’ll wait until Hornbaker’s replacement is named this summer to apply for the grant. She wants to have a chance to network with the new elementary art teacher so they can plan out the events they’d like to hold next year. As for Hornbaker, she’d like to find a way to encourage older students to participate in the art nights as well, she’s envisioning them working with younger students in a mentoring role.
“Even if I’m not at the elementary level I still want to work on this,” Hornbaker said. “So maybe that would be getting older students to volunteer to help at tables so they can experience that. They can share that passion with the little kids.”
Contact David Dolmage at 641-792-3121 ext. 6532 or firstname.lastname@example.org