Waimea Elementary School students take a walk on the artistic side

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<p>Waimea Elementary School students enjoy the Playground and Garden Projects Open House, on May 3, in the school cafeteria after school. (PHOTO BY LISA M. DAHM| NHN)</p>
<p>Students examine photos taken by fifth graders under the direction of photographer Jonathan Rawle. (PHOTO BY LISA M. DAHM| NHN)</p>
<p>Waimea Elementary students look at artwork done by the different classes at the Playground and Garden Projects Open House, May 3. (PHOTO BY LISA M. DAHM| NHN)</p>
<p>Waimea Elementary students look at artwork done by the different classes at the Playground and Garden Projects Open House, May 3. (PHOTO BY LISA M. DAHM| NHN)</p>

Marcella McClelland, Waimea Elementary School principal, is proud of her school this year.

Not only did they achieve their goals academically, but they also added art and photography classes and received a spruced up playground and 31 new school garden beds, thanks to the school’s Parent-Teacher-Student Organization.

She was able to show off all of the good work at a Waimea Elementary School PTSO Playground and Garden Projects Open House on May 3, with artwork done by the students displayed in the cafeteria and lining the outdoor hallway walls throughout the school.

“The PTSO totally put this on,” she said of the event. “It is a culmination of the grant that they had written.”

The art show open house was an opportunity to bring parents and the community to the school, so they could see all of the positive additions.

To create the artwork, students from all classes worked with art teacher Araya Pathwalker.

“I was really impressed with some of the artwork they were doing with Araya,” McClelland said.

Photographer Jonathan Rawle also has been working with about 130 fourth and fifth grade students since January to create photography art. Using iPads to take photos, he taught the students about photo composition, different types of photography, photographic history and critique, and even how to take group photos.

The result was 27 vibrant, interesting photos that he had enlarged and set out for display at the art show.

“The kids had a blast,” Rawle said. “They took wonderful pictures.”

“With the Lowe’s Toolbox for Education grant we were able to accomplish great things this year,” said Rebekah Horne, in charge of fundraising for the Waimea Elementary School PTSO.

She said that before the grant, the school had an empty field with a broken basketball hoop for play equipment. Through the grant, they were able to purchase four basketball hoops, six tetherball poles, two volleyball nets, two soccer goals, 12 hopscotch courts, five four-square games, two Twister games, a tricycle path, a freshly painted gazebo, an outdoor educational circle, an educational mural, a refinished stage and seating. In addition to the equipment, they have also started a recess running club.

“The children are engaged, happy, and proud of their new equipment,” Horne said.

The grant also enabled the school to start a solid gardening program with 31 new raised garden beds. The school even hired a nutrition teacher who is using the gardens as a resource guide.

“The children have taken personal interest and pride in their classroom gardens. I frequently see them watering their classroom gardens and weeding them as I walk around campus,” Horne said. “Many children are trying new vegetables that they wouldn’t have otherwise tried because they grew it themselves. The gardens have impacted not only their garden class, but also everyday teaching is being practiced out in the gardens, using the gardens for math and science class as well. “

The colorful, interesting playground and new garden beds took much more than a grant to complete. The PTSO organized four work days during the school year to get the work done. The first one was the Playground Lines and Mural Project. There were more than 40 volunteers that showed up for the work day, where they painted 12 hopscotch, five, four-square games, two Twister games, tricycle path, basketball court lines, gazebo, outdoor educational circle, educational mural, and refinished stage and seating.

The second and third work days were used to complete the Garden Project. About 20 volunteers came each work day in the rain, according to Horne. During the project, volunteers constructed and installed 31 raised garden beds and filled them with topsoil.

The final work day was the Playground Equipment Project. There were around 20 volunteers that installed three basketball hoops, four tetherball poles, two volleyball nets, two soccer goals, inflated playground balls for each class, painted basketball court lines, and refinished the old basketball hoop.

“The funds that Lowe’s provided made it possible for us to teach children the importance of activity and nutrition in a hands-on environment,” Horne said. “Many generations of children will benefit from a successful, healthy future.”