Fourth and Fifth grade art students at Parkview Elementary and Memorial Elementary were teamed up with their Valparaiso High School sketch buddies this afternoon after months of collaborating and sharing work with one another. Students from the AP art program at VHS were paired up with students from Parkview and Memorial in order to teach as well as form lasting connections through creativity and expression.
“We had the idea for this program come to life after visiting a conference in Indy. We were thinking of ways to connect the high school students and the elementary students. I thought what better way to do so than to sketch with them,” shared Karyn Wenger, the Parkview and Memorial Art Teacher. “I decided to pair up with Matt Banas at the high school and he helped to make the pairings. Some of the students even were able to go to the Valparaiso High School Honors Art Show after being invited by their buddy!” The Parkview and Memorial students involved were Graham Collins, Isabela Fouch, Grace Petersen, Gabriela Sfirnaciuc, Jolee Smith, Mackenzie Gearhart, Damilola Ayangade, Autumn York, and Dhemi Mislenkov. Their VHS buddies included Chris Hartz, Aleska Reed, Julia Manion, Katie Janoski, Kim Jankowski, Corey Gardner, Mia Baker, and Katrin Terry.
“I think it’s important to have high school level art students collaborate with younger students because it will motivate them to want to do art,” stated Matthew Banas, IB Honors Art Teacher at Valparaiso High School. Matthew also teaches Intro to Art and three-dimensional art courses including jewelry, ceramics, and sculpture at VHS. “Enrollment is dropping in the amount of people signing up for art classes so I feel that starting kids out at a younger age and getting them involved with the high school is important.”
Today the students were able to exchange sketchbooks as well as work on some art together. Each elementary student swapped a bright green tote bag with their buddy and proceeded to decorate one another’s. Senior Corey Gardner and fifth grade student Isabela Fouch decided to draw caricature portraits of each other!
“My favorite thing about art is getting to be creative,” said Isabela Fouch of Parkview Elementary with a smile. “The buddy program is neat because you get to see other people’s art and how good it is. Then you can try to do exactly what they do.”
The afternoon ended with a raffle. Three students had their names picked out of a jar and were able to choose fun and new art materials to take home in order to further fuel their passion. All in all, this program sparked the creative flames in young students of Valparaiso and allowed them to connect with fellow students and art lovers. Draw on!