Class highlights students’ art abilities

Edna Sealy, center, leads students at Helena Intermediate through a hands-on project that encourages fine motor skills, decision-making and creative self-expression. (Contributed)

Edna Sealy, center, leads students at Helena Intermediate through a hands-on project that encourages fine motor skills, decision-making and creative self-expression. (Contributed)

By LAURA BROOKHART / Community Columnist

Students in Mrs. Carmon Jackson’s classroom at Helena Intermediate School embraced the opportunity to be creative with enthusiasm as coordinator and visual arts instructor Ms. Edna Sealy recently visited to present an Art Abilities lesson.
Gathered around a worktable, they were tossing dough balls with glee, then allowing assistance from instructional aids Nicki Albee and Tracy Contorno to choose a favorite shape—a star, a football, a ladybug—and press it into the clay slab before them. These ornaments will be painted and sent home with each student.
Art Abilities provides a once-a-week supplementary art and music therapy program that rotates through some sixteen Shelby County Schools. The program, now in its fourth year, is made available with grant monies from Shelby County Community Health.
The program “provides motor skill development through sensory experiences; increases self-esteem and sense of accomplishment; and improves social skills through cooperative arts education activities,” and is also currently being taught at HES.
“Art Abilities has given my students the opportunity to express their own creativity in each project that they work on,” noted Carmon Jackson.
“They are very proud of each piece of artwork that they get to create.”
On the nearby wall under the proclamation ‘Awesome Work’ hang student collages from a session called Psychedelic Sand Dollars that was an exercise in drawing circles in colors on a black background.
“The focus of this project was to develop fine motor skills, practice making choices, and creating movement,” said Sealy.
The next session of Art Abilities classes in these two schools will explore musical rhythm and instruments—acoustic guitar, electric piano, tambourine, various types of drums as well as an unconventional assemblage of cookie tins, pot lids and shakers. It is taught by Charles Tortorici.
While two students happened to be sporting their ‘Keep Calm Because Fifth Grade Rocks’ class field trip T-shirt, it was evident from the body language and each child’s face that time spent expressing oneself through art also rocks.