By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News
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Roughly 60 third-graders from three classes at Franklin Elementary School in Port Angeles and 45 fourth-graders from Sequim's Helen Haller Elementary School bent, twisted and weaved sticks and branches gathered from the community into the shape of a bird's nest fit for a person.
The third-graders pitched in Wednesday morning, while the Sequim students loaned their hands to the project Thursday.
Students, teachers and parent volunteers worked under the direction of Karen White, a Kirkland-based artist contracted by the fine arts center to start a sculpture project dubbed “Re Creation” meant to be built by the community.
“It really does take a lot of people to make projects like this happen,” White said Wednesday as she watched third-graders flit around the growing nest on the grass outside the fine arts center at 1203 E. Lauridsen Blvd.
All are welcome to help build the nest from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today through Saturday, White said.
When done, the nest should be big enough for visitors to be able to lie down inside it, she added.
Sharle Osborne, fourth-grade teacher at Helen Haller Elementary, said her colleague Robi Andison, another fourth-grade teacher, set up Thursday's field trip to the fine arts center but didn't initially know the nest-building project would be under way.
“I didn't know anything about this,” Andison said Thursday as she watched her students weave sticks into the roughly 5-foot-wide nest.
Andison and Osborne agreed the art project would help the students with listening and following directions, and give them a chance to do things not typically allowed.
“Normally when we go on some field trip, we say, 'Boys, put those sticks down,'” Osborne said with a chuckle.
Debbie Erickson, third-grade teacher at Franklin Elementary School, said White made a presentation to the third-grade classes last week, showing her website and other similar projects she had completed.
“[The students] were very excited [and] couldn't wait to try it out,” Erickson said Wednesday.
Erickson said Franklin's third-grade classes often combine for field trips and lessons during the school day, though not quite like the community art project.
“We've never done any big team-building like this,” Erickson said.
“I think it's teaching [the students] to work together as a team and to cooperate and to make something beautiful out in nature.”
Shannon Turner, an AmeriCorps volunteer working with Franklin's third-grade classes for the past year and who helped build the nest Wednesday, said the project allows the students to relate to nature while improving team-building and cooperation skills.
“It's just so much fun watching them,” Turner said.
For more information, visit www.pafac.org.
Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.