The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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March 21, 2013

Artwork brightens school halls

FULTON, Ill. — Using the River Bend Middle School and Elementary hallways and cafeteria as an art gallery makes perfect sense to Mackenzie Jackson and Ashley Thicksten.

That’s why they’re using those locations as a place to spotlight students’ art work this week, and parents are getting a firsthand glimpse into what their children are doing in class. This week marks the third year that kindergarten through 12th grade students in the River Bend School District are displaying work in a district-wide art show at River Bend middle and elementary schools. Jackson oversees middle school and high school, while Thicksten manages kindergarten through fifth grade.

For Jackson, the show represents a time for parents to see the great strides children are making in art class.

“It’s a very positive event,” Jackson said. “A lot of parents get to see the artwork, and the kids all say their art is in a show, so parents make a point to see it.”

The cafeteria’s walls in the middle school and the hallway leading to the elementary school are covered with art, representing approximately 1,000 pieces of art, Jackson said.

Some are more advanced than others, but Thicksten said the show presents an opportunity for elementary students to become better artists.

“I view what I do is that I help them lay the foundation to make this a better district program,” Thicksten said. “This exposes them to different media and gives them more of an exposure to art.”

The show isn’t judged, but that doesn’t mean students don’t take the show seriously. Jackson and Thicksten encourage each student to save their best work during the year to present the best work they have done, whether that be for a kindergartener or high school senior.

One item that has helped make this a broader event is the evolution of making this a district-wide show.

In the past, Jackson said, different grades held a separate display. Now, everything is viewable during an entire week.

“We just didn’t have people coming in to see this stuff,” Jackson said. “We decided that it would be nice to join forces and set it up that way. One central location made it ideal.”

This week’s show also coincides with the elementary school open house tonight.

“The kids love to see their art work,” Thicksten said. “They’re very enthusiastic.”

High school students also will bring their artwork to the middle school from 6 to 7 p.m. today for onlookers to view.

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