Monday, December 15, 2014

Dave Hamilton Makes Music with Fifth Graders -- and They Make the News!

Dave Hamilton of LEAF in Schools and Streets visited Claxton last week to teach fifth graders a thing or two about making music.  An Asheville musician and engineer, Hamilton has been visiting Claxton annually for several years now.  His "Music School" is, for many students, one of the highlights of their last year at Claxton.

Check out the WLOS story about his visit here:

Claxton Students Make Music - WLOS - Asheville Never Stop Learning - ABC

And learn more about Hamilton and his work here.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Kindergarten Residency with Artist Holly DeSaillan

Miss Jones' kindergarten class has been very lucky to start off their elementary school experience with a residency by talented artist Holly DeSaillan.

Holly has been working with the class on recognizing geometric shapes and spatial relationships.  She began her residency teaching them about artist Paul Klee.

Students then created their own Klee-like compositions using watercolor pencils.

Finally, they translated their visions to clay tiles. They used objects from the classroom to create shapes they recognized in the clay.  They even wrote poems about their pieces.

As always, we are incredibly grateful for the wonderful work of the Asheville City Schools Foundation, which funded this residency through its TAPAS (Teaching Artists Presenting in Asheville Schools) program.

Look for a display of Miss Jones' students' work soon!

'Tis the Season ... for Arts Field Trips

Continuing a Claxton tradition during this season full of traditions, second and third graders attended professional performances on Friday, December 5.

Second graders were treated to The Nutcracker and the Mouse King at the Diana Wortham Theater.  Produced by Asheville Contemporary Dance Theater and New Studio of Dance, the performance was a quirky retelling of the traditional tale, with colorful sets and costumes, contemporary as well as classical music, and, we are told, some very funny bits.

Meanwhile, the third graders attended the Blue Ridge Symphony Orchestra's performance of Peter and the Wolf. Comprised entirely of volunteer musicians, the Blue Ridge Symphony Orchestra is dedicated to making music accessible to the community.  They surely do a great job of making it fun for our students.

As always, students learned about more than just music and dance on these field trips.  They learned about the importance of the arts in their own lives.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Fifth Graders Attend the Asheville Symphony

Claxton's fifth grade students were treated to a Young People's Concert by the Asheville Symphony Orchestra at Thomas Wolfe Auditorium on November 19.

This year's program—entitled "Meet the Mozarts!"—took students through Mozart's life and music.  Special guests include 2014 Young Artist Competition winner - violinist Willa Finck, the AC Reynolds High School Choir, narrators Preston Hilliard and Graham Podraza, MusicWorks Asheville, and vocalists Emily Mady and Nathan Sales.

Many thanks to ASO for offering our students this wonderful opportunity!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Art Garden Is Really Growing!

What are those boxes popping up in the Art Garden?

Why, more opportunities for Claxton students to make things grow—and grow from the experience.

The new additions are planters that will soon host beds that advance the curricular themes featured in the Art Garden:  a butterfly garden, seasonal bed, shapes and colors bed, and North Carolina indigenous plants beds.

Students will have the opportunity to plant and tend the beds as a tie-in to their curriculum.  How cool to learn about the life cycle of a butterfly and then see it taking place!  Or to practice identifying shapes and colors with flowers you've planted.  And what a treat to study Cherokee culture while growing what they have traditionally harvested.

We were able to purchase materials thanks to a grant from Buncombe County Master Gardeners.  And community volunteers from Duke Energy were generous enough to donate their time to build the planters.  Our sincere thanks for all the support both groups have shown Claxton.

Keep your eyes peeled as the Art Garden really starts growing!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Getting Spooky in Second Grade

Everyone knows Halloween is spooky, but check out how Mr. Williams' second graders took advantage of the holiday to show off their writing and storytelling skills.

Every student worked hard on writing his or her own spooky story, editing it, and adding illustrations.  Then, on Halloween, they gathered around the fire and read their stories to their peers and an audience of parents.

Not only did they gain great experience in creating their own stories, exercising their imaginations, and reinforcing the concept of story arcs, but they learned how adding a performance to the story allowed them to directly affect their audience—from inducing shivers to inviting laughter.

The students are dressed as their favorite book characters as well!

We're so proud of this and the many other examples of in-class arts integration that our talented teachers offer their students.  Our children are so lucky for this learning environment!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

AHS Theater Students Perform "Folk Tales Far and Wide"

The Asheville High School theatre teacher, Mrs. C.J. Breland, brought her Theatre II class acting students to Claxton on Wednesday, October 22nd to share their talents in a dramatic production of folk tales that they adapted for the stage. This is a yearly tradition that gives the high school students a chance to hone their skills and brings a fun performing arts experience to Claxton students.  

The show included:

a Chinese folk tale, “Tikki Tikki Tembo”

a Korean tale, “What We Plant, We Will Eat” 

and one of the Grimms’ tales, “The White Snake.” 

Mrs. Breland spoke to Claxton kindergarteners, 1st graders, and 2nd graders  about the acting process and her students’ work in preparing the show and how to be a polite and appreciative audience.  The students enjoyed the assembly with much laughter and curiosity.

The AHS actors also used some of the puppets that were created during a residency at the high school with Hobey Ford last spring for some of the animals in the stories. Claxton teachers got a chance to feel nostalgic (and old!) when we saw three former Claxton students on stage with the AHS troupe, looking very grown-up!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Congratulations Arts Grants Recipients!

It's early in the school year, but already SIX Claxton teachers have been awarded grants from the Asheville City Schools Foundation to support a classroom residency by a local artist!

In the spirit of our newest students, we'll count them out:


During the summer, Media Specialist Jamie Allbach received a TAPAS Legacy Grant that allowed weaver Audra Holden to work with the Summer Escape students on the garden looms in Claxton's Art Garden.


Art Specialist James Cassara has received a TAPAS Legacy Grant to have a mural artist work with the fourth graders to add representations of Cherokee culture and history to the North Carolina History mural in the Art Garden.


Kindergarten teacher Christine Jones has been awarded a TAPAS grant so that mosaic artist Holly deSaillan can work with her students using art to help them recognize shapes and spatial relationships.  During her residency, entitled "The Shape of What I See," kindergarteners will create shapes-centered designs using colored pencils, translate their designs onto clay tiles, glaze the tiles, and write poems describing what they've created.


Second grade teacher Justin Williams received a TAPAS grant for poet Meggen Lyon to visit his classroom in the spring.  In her Investigative Poetry residency, students will write poems in the styles of various poets and then choose one of their pieces to polish and present in a poetry performance.


Music Specialist Brooks Butler has once again been awarded a grant so that Dave Hamilton of the Bob Moog Foundation can work with fifth graders on a spring residency in Student Creativity and Music Recording.


Let's not forget the digital arts!  Instructional Technology Facilitator Kimberly Eggett received a grant for Teaching Programming through Robots from the Foundation as well.

Add these grants to the Racial Equity grant to sponsor a Racial Equity Team and training for all faculty and staff, and Claxton has received over $10,000 in grant money from the Asheville City Schools Foundation this school year.

We are so deeply grateful to the Foundation for all they do for Claxton and all of the Asheville City Schools.  Don't forget to support them as thanks for the many ways in which they support us!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Our 2014-2015 Arts Calendar Is Up!

Curious about arts events and performances taking place at Claxton?  Take a look at our Events Page and see what's scheduled ... so far.  We expect to be adding more arts-integration opportunities for our students all the time, so check back!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Bricks Are Here!

The A+ Committee is excited to announce that the engraved bricks many of you ordered last spring have arrived!  We're looking forward to seeing them placed right in front of the school, on the path leading to the Art Garden.

You can still buy a brick for your family, student, business, or loved one.  The money goes directly to support arts integration and to creating more permanent installations of children's art on the Claxton campus.  Support Claxton with a tax deductible donation of $100 and leave a legacy on the school grounds.

Order online here.

Our student artists thank you!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Celebrating International Dot Day with Fine Arts, Digital Arts, and Literacy

Our Media Specialist, Jamie Allbach, took advantage of International Dot Day, September 15, to introduce the students to a new dimension of arts-integration—adding digital arts into the mix.

First, she read The Dot, by Peter H. Reynolds to individual classrooms.

Next, students used colored pencils to decorate their own dots.

Finally, out came the iPads.  Using a 3-D coloring app called colAR, students held the iPad over their own dot creations and turned them into 3-dimensional works of art.  

Check out how excited these kindergarteners are!

Thank you, Ms. Allbach, for using arts integration to get Claxton students excited about literacy!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Giving Tree Music Brings Its Drum Circle Back to Claxton

Steve Turner of Giving Tree Music brought his community building drum circle to Claxton on Monday, September 22nd.  This was the third year he has visited, and we feel so fortunate to have a special relationship with him.

Every grade got to participate in a session with him.  Through drum rhythms and dancing activities, Steve taught Claxton students about a wide variety of subjects, including west African drums and language. He even had them drumming-out the names of the American presidents whose faces appear on our currency and the chemical formula for salt water as he gave a geography lesson on oceans. 

Check out how much fun the students are having:

Steve considers his work more as community and team building than music making, but it was certainly musical, and his easy way with the kids, their love of music, and the chance to dance brought smiles, togetherness, and joy.  

Our thanks to the Claxton PTO for sponsoring this event.  We hope his annual visit will remain a tradition here!  To learn more about Giving Tree Music, visit

Monday, September 22, 2014

Summer Escape Keeps the Arts Going over the Summer!

Summer vacation didn't slow down the arts at Claxton!  Summer Escape, held weekly in the Media Center, included read-aloud, crafts, gardening ... and a very special residency with weaving artist Audra Holden.

Building on the Summer Escape Hawaiian theme, Audra worked with Claxton kids to design and create a truly beautiful tapestry on one of our garden looms.

Check out the lava spilling from the volcano!

The loom is visible to the public along Hillside and is another reminder that Claxton is an arts-integration school.  It also shows yet again how Claxton contributes to arts in the community.

Our thanks to the Asheville City Schools Foundation for funding Audra's residency through its wonderful TAPAS program!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Second Floor Mural Makes the News

The fabulous work of mural artist Ian Wilkinson and Claxton's 2nd and 3rd graders was recognized this week in the Citizen-Times.  The newspaper's website included a gallery of photos from this week's mural dedication ceremony.

Take a look here.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Check Out Our Fifth Graders Performing at LEAF with Kim and Reggie Harris!

Hands down the best performance at LEAF!  Here it is in full.  Get ready to sing!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Second Graders Complete West African Drum Residency

Asheville resident and Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast, West Africa) native, Adama Dembele, spent this week teaching Claxton 2nd graders West African drumming.

The West African drumming residency took place during music specialist time and focused on teaching the 2nd graders to play rhythms particular to the traditional cultures of Ivory Coast and Mali. The students also learned a little about drumming technique, life in urban and rural West Africa, how certain rhythms can communicate meaning, and even a few words in the tribal dialects of the region and in French. 

We are fortunate that the PTO was able to fund this artist residency with a mini-grant.  We are even luckier that having our second graders work with Demebele has become a Claxton tradition, made possible last year by another PTO mini-grant and in years past with grants from the Asheville City Schools Foundation.

For more information about Adama Dembele and the incredible tradition he brings to Asheville, visit his website:

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Don't Miss the Fifth Graders' Performance at LEAF!

Claxton fifth graders will take to the stage at this spring's LEAF Festival, the culmination of a three-day residency with in Socially Conscious Music and Storytelling with Kim and Reggie Harris.

The performance will be at 1:15 on Saturday, May 10 at the Barn Stage.

Kim and Reggie Harris have amassed an amazing repertoire of African American music, blending spirituals and freedom songs, the old and the new. Combining traditional African-American spirituals and freedom songs with original folk, they sing of life, love, the quest for freedom, environment and community.

The duo raises awareness of the Underground Railroad through music and history. They will discuss leadership and role models with Claxton students, and will work with them to write songs and tell stories about leaders they know and/or admire. Fifth graders will also discuss the ways they are or can become leaders in their school and community.

Thanks to LEAF in Schools and Streets for this wonderful opportunity!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

It's Another Hit Show!

Congratulations to the cast and crew of Claxton's 2014 spring musical, Princess Whatshername!

Reviews ranged from, "I LOVED IT!!!" (Lydia, age 5) to "I want to see it again!" (Jack, age 7)

Our students did an awesome job, and we are forever grateful to the parents who worked backstage and selling concessions, our live band members, all the faculty who helped with stage construction, logistics, and everything else, and of course Mr. Butler, the Musical Director, and Ms. Baldwin, the Director.  They put in countless hours every year to make the spring musical happen, and we are so pleased with what a success it was this year.

Stay tuned for information on purchasing a DVD!