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Art is RAD

Rosemont Ridge celebrates the arts for a day


by: VERN UYETAKE - Lexie Pritchard, seventh grade, center, sings along with Norman Sylvester and LaRhonda Steele during last weeks RAD Rock day at Rosemont Ridge.Feb. 6 was a tough day of school for students at Rosemont Ridge Middle School. There was running in flippers, tug-o-war battles, learning new hand gestures, drawing and a blues concert. Some students might say the day was rad.

During what was a professional development day, the middle school was transformed from classes crunching numbers in math and conducting science experiments to classes celebrating the arts thanks to RAD Rock.

The arts team at the school wanted to create a day just to celebrate the arts and came up with RAD (Related Arts Day) Rock.

Because of an already shortened day due to professional development, arts educator Linda Kieling and her team were able to design a day where students could rotate between sessions of exploring different facets of the arts.

“It’s my life passion,” Kieling said of the arts. “It helps give students voices, helps create meaning. It’s just so core, so central of us as people.”by: VERN UYETAKE - Abby Beckett , right, and Avery Feurborn enjoy the music of The Norman Sylvester Band.

One RAD Rock session taught students about installation art. The students first learned about positive and negative spaces, motifs and patterns. They then used that knowledge to adorn a tongue depressor. The 700 or so tongue depressors will then be combined for a large installation piece.

As part of the process, students could brainstorm how and where the decorated pieces should go. Seventh-grader Cooper Whitbeck thought they could be used to surface the desk in the front office of the school.

To get the students moving and thinking differently, there was a period of physical challenges held in the gym. Students were challenged to relay races while running in swim flippers, tug-o-war and searching for bubble gum in whipped cream. Though it all sounds like fun and games, students were learning about being active participants as well as building character by supporting and cheering for each other.

“I think one of the biggest things is that feeling of community because everybody is participating,” Kieling said.

After a class in culture and gestures, students may be more reluctant to give the thumbs up, the A-OK or even put their hands in their pockets. The session explored the idea that gestures are not universal. For example, keeping your hands in your pockets during a conversation is considered rude in Indonesia, France and Spain. And don’t even think about giving the index-finger-to-thumb OK symbol in Latin American unless you really intend to offend someone. Students may wonder what other cultures would think of their school’s own gesture of the quiet coyote, touching middle and ring fingers to thumb and making ears with index and pinky fingers.by: VERN UYETAKE - RAD Rock

“We are getting kids to see the world view of things rather than just their perspective of it,” Kieling said.

The icing and the art cake of the day were performances by The Norman Sylvester Band, a blues group. The band invited students to take turns on stage singing with the band.

“It’s really exciting just walking around, they are so engaged,” Kieling said of the students.

Funding for RAD Rock came from Music and Arts Partners, a nonprofit organization dedicated to funding the arts in the West Linn-Wilsonville School District, the school’s leadership Voices of the Students and from the school’s art fund.

The day was facilitated by teachers leading the sessions, parent volunteers and the school PTO.

“Our PTO has really been tremendously supportive,” Kieling said.

Even though the day wasn’t even over, Kieling was already planning for next year to expand the program and bring in more guests. She said RAD Rock was timed to be a kickoff for March, which is Music in Our School Month and Youth Art Month.

“I firmly believe in what kids can do through art and what art can do for kids,” Kieling said.by: VERN UYETAKE - RAD Rock




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