Thursday, December 17, 2015

Claxton Fourth Graders Use the Arts to Help Seniors in Need

For the fourth year in a row, Claxton's fourth graders learned about community support and public service by putting their art skills to work.

Under the guidance of Mr. Cassara, Claxton's Art Specialist, the students decorated about 80 bags that were placed at CitiStops around the city for collecting cash and food donations for Meals on Wheels' Santa for Seniors program. The donations will be delivered to nursing homes and assisted living facilities—as will the lovely bags.

In a thank you letter to the students, CitiStop noted that "the bags turned out even better than we could have hoped. We know the seniors will love the bags as much as we did." Between Claxton and one other elementary school, 223 gift bags were delivered to Meals on Wheels clients. As CitiStop said, our students "helped bring joy to many people this holiday season."

Thank you to Mr. Cassara for giving our students the opportunity to do such meaningful giving!

Friday, December 11, 2015

It's the Ninth Annual Claxton Storytelling Festival!

One of our favorite traditions, one that distinguishes Claxton as a special place, is the annual Storytelling Festival. For an entire school day, all the learning takes place in storytelling settings, with students taking a break from their usual routine to hear about different cultures, ideas, and, yes, stories, from professionals, faculty members, and their own peers.

This year's Storytelling Festival, the ninth one Claxton has held, featured an exciting array of performers. The reviews are in, and the students LOVED it!

Madafo Lloyd Wilson practices the art of African storytelling, incorporating the works of Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, Kahlil Gibran, and others. He uses music, poetry, and folk stories to draw people together. 

Sheila Kay Adams reflects another important part of WNC culture as seventh-generation ballad singer, storyteller, and claw-hammer banjo player. A native of Madison County, she has worked to preserve the local tradition of unaccompanied ballad singing and appeared at storytelling festivals around the world.

Other professionals who shared their talents and traditions with Claxton students are: Scottie McCall, The Reverend Alfred Blount, Leon Stewart, Kathy Gordon, Micah McKenzie, and Jason Krekel.

And the Storytelling Festival wouldn't be the same without our own local talent! Mr. Godleski, Mr. Butler, Ms. Rigsby, Ms. Eggett, and Ms. Henderson, joined by Don Heartstrong, all performed. We even tempted Dr. McCallister to take a break from his work as Assistant Superintendent of Student Support Services for Asheville City Schools to come tell some stories.

We're particularly proud of our Claxton student storytellers, who have been working with Mr. Godleski in After School Arts and got to show off their skills! Kudos to Isabel Bishop, Jack Callihan, Edgar Danko, Annabelle Esmond, Walker Godfrey, Alayna Gulley, Ellie Sieburg, Bella Thomas, and Sophie Thomas! We are so proud of you!

We are also very lucky to have Tom Godleski using his amazing talents and connections to pull the Storytelling Festival together, and many other wonderful faculty members working hard to pull it off. An ENTIRE DAY of storytelling! Our students are so excited and motivated!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Get Ready for the Winter Concert!

One of our favorite events of the season, the Claxton Winter Concert, is coming up on December 17.

The format has changed this year. ALL 1st through 5th grade students have been invited to perform. The Morning Music groups will have a separate performance after Winter Break.

There's no question that performing for an audience is an important skill, and one that contributes to our students' academic success. It inspires self-confidence, self-control, and pride in an important accomplishment. And rehearsing for the performance helps students develop the skills that support not only their musical abilities, but their math abilities as 

Please come support your Claxton student by planning on attending the Winter Concert! And stay for cookies and punch provided by the Claxton PTO after the show!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Ms. Gebhard's First Graders Make Cities with TAPAS Artist Leslie Rosenberg

During the two weeks before Thanksgiving break, Ms. Gebhard's class engaged in an exciting social studies-meets-woodworking project with TAPAS artist Leslie Rosenberg.

The class prepared for the residency by meeting with a real city planner and discussing what makes a community. Then, in four groups, they drew maps of the cities they planned to build.

Ms. Rosenberg began her visit by discussing the properties of wood with the students and brainstorming ideas for using bits and pieces of wood to build the cities they had planned. 

Students then transferred their maps onto large wooden boards and selected pieces of wood to serve as the buildings, parks, power facilities, houses, and other parts of their cities. They had to be careful to label each piece so it could be glued on later—a lot of detailed work for these 6- and 7-year-old builders!

Next, students painted their bases and the individual wood pieces, added details, and, finally glued them in place.

The very last stage of the construction project involved using other objects—pom poms, Easter grass, pebbles, and such—to create the environment around their buildings.

The class will be using their impressive cities to practice their navigational skills using the compass roses showing cardinal directions that they included on the bases of their cities.

We are so very impressed with the thought and teamwork students put into this project. They were attuned to issues like green space, environmental needs, schools, businesses, power generation, and, of course, recreational needs. They truly showed how doing art allows their minds to more clearly grasp and engage with curricular subjects.

Many thanks to Ms. Rosenberg for the time, care, and work she put into her residency. And, of course, we cannot thank Asheville City Schools Foundation enough for making the TAPAS program available, and for funding this residency!

Friday, November 20, 2015

A Windy Day with the Asheville Symphony

On November 20, Claxton 2nd, 3rd, and 4th graders were treated to a concert in the gymnatorium by the woodwind section of the Asheville Symphony Orchestra. We are so proud of the students' attention and good questions!

The quintet delighted students with selections including Mozart's versions of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star and Henry Mancini's Pink Panther Theme. They also taught students about the instruments and wore different colored tee-shirts representing each one. This approach helped students learn the roles and sounds of the woodwinds.

The flutist (who also demonstrated the flute's cousin, the piccolo) wore blue to represent the sky, where birds fly. The flute often represents the sound of birdsong, such as in Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf.

The clarinet player, dressed in yellow, explained that the clarinet was invented in Germany by adding a reed to a flute. 

Just as the color red worn by the bassoon player is the base of the rainbow, the vibrations produced by a bassoon are low in pitch, and form a base under the other instruments in the quintet.

The oboe player, in green, also introduced students to the sound of the English horn.

The fifth member of the woodwind section, the French horn, is technically a brass instrument, not a woodwind. The musician wore orange to recall the ancient use of the horn in a hunt, since orange is the color worn by hunters for safety.

The Guild of the Asheville Symphony Orchestra sponsors these annual visits to provide music education to supplement the excellent work of ACS music specialists. The program culminates in a 5th grade field trip to see the Asheville Symphony Youth Orchestra perform on March 9.

Thank you to The Guild for making this program possible!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Performances, You Say?

Let's not forget the performances!

In addition to hands-on use of the arts to help students master curricular subjects, arts integration includes exposing students to artistic performances that teach them about other cultures, other ways of communicating, spatial relationships, the science of sound, the mechanics of the human body ... This year we'll even have dual-language performances that support our new Spanish Integration program! We could go on and on.

So we're excited to share with you the list of upcoming performances and assemblies our superior Claxton specialists have planned for the remainder of the school year.

On December 10 it's the annual Storytelling Festival, a special event that really sets Claxton apart. For the entire day, students take a break from regular programming to attend a variety of storytelling performances in large and small group settings—and sometimes try out a little storytelling themselves!

Then, in 2016, get ready for:

While the schedule is always subject to change, we appreciate the attention to diverse cultures and performance media it provides. 

Mostly, though, we're just excited that Claxton students get the unique experience of attending these performances and being exposed to something new and valuable.

Thanks, specialists, for your work collecting this terrific group!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Still Growing!

Our Children's Art Garden just keeps on growing!

After a long wait, the beautiful ceramic tiles depicting the life cycle of plants are finally on display, and they are well worth the wait!

The tiles were created by third graders in spring 2014 as part of a residency with TAPAS artist Melissa Weiss. Ms. Weiss' residency was part of the larger Art Garden project in which every grade worked with a different TAPAS artist to create an installation showcasing one of the curricular subjects they were learning at the time.

Mr. Cassara worked hard to mount the tiles so they could be displayed together, our wonderful Bear Pack built the frames, and ACS Maintenance worked hard to ensure that they have been properly installed.

Be sure to come take a closer look at the display—and to stroll past the NC History and Culture mural, the Cardinal Directions boulders, the Seasonal pavers, the Shapes, Patterns, and Colors picnic benches, our garden looms, and the planters that reflect the Art Garden subjects. What a lovely spot it's become!

Our thanks and appreciation as always to Asheville City Schools Foundation for funding the Art Garden through an Innovation grant and TAPAS grants. And a special shout-out to ACS Maintenance, who did an amazing job of installing the tiles. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The NC History Mural Grows

Have you noticed the changes to the NC History mural on the outside of Claxton facing Merrimon?

It now features representatives of the Cherokee people, Cherokee baskets, African face jugs, pirate ships, sea monsters, and more, thanks to the academic and artistic efforts of last spring's fourth graders and the hard work of Mr. Cassara, our Art Specialist, and local muralist extraordinaire, Ian Wilkinson.

Last spring, supported by a TAPAS Legacy grant from Asheville City Schools Foundation, fourth graders used their time in art to paint the images—which represent aspects of North Carolina's cultural history—onto polytab. Mr. Wilkinson and Mr. Cassara then affixed each piece to the existing mural. 

The mural is part of the Claxton Children's Art Garden created in spring 2013 using funds from an Innovation Grant from Asheville City Schools Foundation. How extremely lucky we are to have the Foundation and its commitment to arts integration.

Keep your eyes on the mural! Mr. Cassara plans to have fourth graders continue to make contributions until it is no longer a work-in-progress, but a full and complete celebration of North Carolina history and culture.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Congratulations Claxton Recipients of TAPAS Artist-in-Residence Grants!

Two Claxton teachers have just been awarded TAPAS grants from the Asheville City Schools Foundation to support teaching artists in their classrooms—and we couldn't be prouder!

Ms. Gebhard won a grant for her first grade class to work with Leslie Rosenberg, who creates mixed media pieces in paint and wood, on a project entitled "Building a Community." 

Ms. Gebhard's students will work collaboratively to design their own communities, work with Ms. Rosenberg to create three-dimensional cities using small-scale wood buildings and fixtures, then learn to navigate their cities using cardinal directions.

Mr. Butler won a TAPAS grant to have musician and sound engineer Dave Hamilton work with fifth graders to create their own electronic music. Mr. Hamilton is not only a TAPAS artist, but also a regular volunteer with the Bob Moog Foundation and with LEAF. Read more about his volunteer work in this Citizen-Times article.

The Asheville City Schools Foundation has funded many other grants to Claxton faculty this year, including grants to support math learning and robotics and to continue the important work Claxton is doing to move toward racial equity. In total, the Foundation has awarded nearly $14,000 in grant money to Claxton this school year alone.

Please remember to support the Asheville City Schools Foundation and the incredible things they help our teachers bring to our students. And congratulate Ms. Gebhard and Mr. Butler on their grant awards! 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Racial Equity Collage Installed in the Media Center

Have you seen the walls of the Media Center lately?

They are COVERED in colorful student art reflecting students' Racial Equity work, guided in their artistic endeavors by TAPAS artist Ginger Huebner.

After learning about culture and community in their classrooms and exploring their own cultures and community ...

... students created collages that reflect how they see themselves ...

... then worked in teams to put their collage selves into contact with other collage individuals ...

... and, finally, turned those groups into a community.
Ms. Huebner put these scenes together and installed a bright, beautiful celebration of the Claxton community in its embrace of all our students' many cultures, identities, and relationships.

The Racial Equity Collage is a stunning addition to the Media Center and an important reminder of the hard work students, faculty, and staff have put into moving toward racial equity at Claxton—and the work they continue to do every single day.

Our deepest thanks to Ms. Huebner, who went above and beyond in bringing the children's work from their minds to paper to the walls of the Media Center, and to the Asheville City Schools Foundation for providing the funds for this important project through its TAPAS Legacy Grant program.