July 3, 2008

American Art Goes to School

By Beth L. Jokinen, The Lima News, Ohio

Jul. 3--ST. MARYS -- Pupils studying American history next school year at McBroom Junior High School will not just read about it, but see it in art form as well.

The school is one of about 15 in the area that will receive up to 40 reproductions of great American art.

"Tying history in with art, where the kids see it in two subjects, it seems to mean more to them," art teacher Kathy Sites said. "A lot of kids are visual learners and if they have a picture, it makes a bigger impact."

The Picture American program, a project through the National Endowment for the Humanities, is designed to help teach American history and culture by bringing American art to classrooms and libraries. The Lima Public Library was also a recipient.

Some of the art will include pictures of historic events and people in American history. All will have historical stories that go along with them. A few examples are "Washington Crossing the Delaware" by Gilbert Stuart, "Abraham Lincoln" by Alexander Gardner, and "Freedom of Speech" by Norman Rockwell.

Schools will also receive teacher resource books to help facilitate the use of the arts in core subjects. The art and resource books will begin arriving at schools in August. Schools get to keep the artwork.

Three Lima City schools are part of the program. The arts magnet programs at Heritage Elementary School and Lima North Middle School and the Lima Senior High Progressive Academy will each receive the artwork.

Sally Windle, director of arts and magnet programs, said the pieces will be available for teachers to use in their classrooms.

"They can all use artwork as the focal point and then bridge their lessons from that," she said. "It's a visual, so it gives them something to picture. And then all the artwork tells a story, and the stories behind those are very factual."

Windle said portraying American history, including wars and civic events, was a trend for artists at one time. She added that many of the pieces were created by famous artists, giving pupils even more to learn about and study.

Sites teaches a unit on Washington, D.C., preparing eighth-graders for their class trip to the nation's capital. The art will expose them to what they will be seeing there.

As an art teacher, Sites said she was just happy to expose her pupils to the pieces.

"In our area, there are not many art museums," she said. "So, if I can bring in artwork, sometimes I spark an interest. For one kid, it's worth it."

Other local schools participating include Bath High School, Cridersville Elementary School, Lima Central Catholic High School, St. Rose of Lima Catholic School, Miller City-New Cleveland schools, Ottawa Elementary School, Columbus Grove High School and Crestview High School.


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