PORT ANGELES — Elementary students are blooming with creativity in an exhibit at the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center.
The Blooming Artists Exhibit will be on display from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays beginning this Thursday and continuing through June 19.
On Tuesday, the center at 1203 E. Lauridsen Blvd. in Port Angeles hosted a reception for the student artists from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
The artwork by more than 250 students includes pottery, print-making, collage, watercolor and painting, as well as flower pressing.
The show represents the culmination of a year of arts, science and garden integrated learning with Pre-K through third-grade students within the Port Angeles School District, which was awarded a $24,300 Creative Start Grant from the Washington State Arts Commission. The program initially was conceived to extend the Franklin School Garden Program to other elementary schools, organizers said.
For the past six years, Franklin Elementary has maintained a school garden program, in which teachers and volunteers provide project-based education that aims to integrate art, science, playful movement, story, SEL (Social and Emotional Learning) and nature.
Christine Loewe, executive director of the Fine Arts Center, has been the volunteer garden coordinator at Franklin Elementary for five years.
“This project has allowed me to meld two passions and to support the school district in furthering their efforts to provide project-based learning in our schools,” Loewe said.
“This integrative approach to learning benefits our students in so many ways, which is why I am glad to be a part of this project both as the volunteer garden coordinator and within my position as executive director of the Fine Arts Center.”
Coordinators of the Franklin program offered lessons at elementary schools that recently had developed school gardens — Jefferson and Dry Creek. In addition, students from Peninsula College’s Early Childhood Development Center were invited to participate in the project.
The Port Angeles Fine Arts Center provided expertise on integrating art education curriculum to tie Washington state science and art learning standards together. This is primarily through its education staff.
“I’m excited to bring my background as an outdoor science educator and artist to the education director position,” said Mandy Miller, who fills that position through grant support from this project and the Institute of Museums and Libraries.
“We’ve been able to offer unique education opportunities like workshops, field trips and classroom instruction. Teaching kids within the framework of nature, science and art is what I love to do.”
Fourteen teachers from four schools across the district have participated in the program and more than 30 classes have been offered throughout the school year.
Project partners for Blooming Artists and the year long project include Washington State University Clallam County Extension Service, North Olympic Library System and Olympic National Park education staff as well as teaching artists John Teichert, Micheal Middlestead and Sarah Necco.
For more about the center, see www.pafac.org.