Students, Rotary Club work to battle polio

Published 10:47 am Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thompson Middle School students recently completed an art project aimed at combating polio through a partnership with the Alabaster-Pelham Rotary Club. The artwork has been displayed at the Pelham Civic Complex, local businesses and at the school. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

During the weeks leading up to the Christmas break, boards of student artwork displayed at Thompson Middle School called attention to a disease seldom mentioned in the United States anymore.

Through a partnership with the Alabaster-Pelham Rotary Club, 23 students from several of TMS art teacher Claire Caldwell’s classes put their artistic abilities to work to help inform the community about the fight to eradicate polio.

“(Alabaster-Pelham Rotary Club Sergeant at Arms) Mr. (Dick) Ritz came to the school one day and talked to our principal about doing an art project about polio so they could display it at their Christmas Bazaar,” Caldwell said.

Rotary International, which has worked to eradicate polio worldwide for decades, distributes literature about the fight against the disease, including a comic book geared toward school-age students.

After receiving copies of the comic book, Caldwell assigned each student a comic tile and a caption, and encouraged the kids to create a piece of artwork using he caption as a guide.

“They all used their own drawing styles, so each one was unique” Caldwell said.

When the drawings were complete, they chronicled the history of the sometimes-fatal disease, the work of Jonas Salk, Albert Sabin and Thomas Francis as they developed a vaccine for the disease and the eventual eradication of polio in the Americas by 1994.

Though the Americas are now polio-free, “polio is still crippling children in other countries today, therefore the threat of an outbreak still remains,” read one student drawing.

After collecting the students’ works, Caldwell mounted the drawings onto foam boards to be displayed at the Rotary Club’s Southern Christmas Bazaar, which was held at the Pelham Civic Complex in late November.

Following the Bazaar, the artwork was displayed at local businesses and at TMS. The Alabaster-Pelhm Rotary Club is now preparing to ship the drawings to Rotary International.

“I’m very impressed with how they turned out,” Caldwell said.

Students participating in the project were Andrew Bowen, Ricardo Medina, Sarah Owens, Trinity Scozzaro, Lucas Allison, Diana Angel, Kayla Street, Amber Browning, Gavin Owens, Caitlyn Pierce, Maryolet Garcia, Amanda Orsini, Indy Brinkerhoff, Olivia Coleman, Kamden Marshall, Jonathan Nunez, Isabella Ziglar, Jacqueline Herrera, Ryan Shelton, Ashton Storey, Viktor Turek, Allie Deshazo and Tara Gentile.