Fred Wild Elementary first-graders were all smiles as they worked at their desks Wednesday morning on a project that allowed them to get a little messy, create something and get some help from knowledgeable older students from up the street.
About 30 Sebring High School art class/art club students, and art teacher Steve VanDam, walked over to Fred Wild Elementary to give the younger students a lesson in making a piece of pottery.
Each student started out with a 5-inch cube of modeling clay and were instructed to break off pieces and roll them out on their desks to make little "snakes."
Nevaeh Lenton held up her rolled clay and said, "It looks like a piece of hot dog."
She told her teacher, Theresa Whidden, "You never let us do a messy project like this."
Lenton noted that she had made eight snakes and was working on her ninth.
Each grouping of four student desks had a small container of water.
"When are we going to use the water?" Lenton asked.
A little later the students were instructed to dip their fingers in the water to slightly moisten the clay as they put the pieces together along with a base to form a cup or small bowl.
Amar Ramirez paused to comment on his effort, "In my dreams it looked better than this."
Whidden said the students viewed a video about making pottery and Ramirez liked a piece that had two spouts.
Ramirez said he dreamed of something more elaborate, but with a little guidance from an art student, he tapered his vase and impressed a fellow student.
Jonah Wood exclaimed, "Oh my gosh that thing looks cool!"
Ramirez was already thinking about his next project and said he would join the art club when he goes to high school.
Sebring High senior Venus Saja told the student, "You should; you are doing good."
The Sebring high students will fire up (harden) the creations and glaze them with a neutral color. The first-graders will add color and then the high school students will complete the project with a final glazing.
"It's kind of the excitement of making it for the little ones, but then they also have a gift for somebody in their family," VanDam said. "When they get them back they are blues and pinks and greens and it's like magical."
The Sebring High art students have been doing this instructional project at Fred Wild Elementary school for about 15 years.
"It is kind of funny because a couple of my students that are helping, actually in first-grade did them," VanDam said. "We figure since they don't have art teachers, we try to do at least one project a year and sometimes we get to go twice."
Some of his students are a little shy about teaching the first-graders, but when they get to the elementary school his students love it, he said.