The sign is now locked away in the storage container by the track at the high school. Lyle, Evan, Austin, Alberto, Crystal, Matt and Henrik turned the 10 letters into a pile of two by fours and white panels in one 50-minute class period. Three weeks to create, 50 minutes to dismantle.
My Creekside School posse likes to create things; the next project is a greenhouse designed and built by students. The biology class studies plant growth, the history class studies how farming changed societies, the English class learns about how nature affected literature and my math and art classes design and build the greenhouse. Thirty more days of school – piece of cake. This is how we roll.
Creating things is not a huge priority in schools these days. Between budget cuts, liability, frustrated teachers and focusing on the standards, the average school day is spent behind a screen, in a book or listening to a teacher. We have autonomy and freedom at Creekside, which means that while we develop our curriculum to teach to the same standards, we can also throw in projects.
The Sonoma International Film Festival was like an amazing four-day vacation in our own town. We created four major art pieces for the festival, the most obvious being the 10-by-50 foot SONOMAWOOD sign on the Plaza in front of City Hall. When Joey and I put the sign up at 1 p.m. on Tuesday in a rainstorm, he didn’t complain once. The students also created Cuban posters and giant turtles for the John Waters show Saturday night, an 8-foot beer bottle for the Fat Tire people and chalk murals for the Backlot Tent. I anticipated that Evan, Joey, Joel and Warren would work about an hour on the chalk murals but they were there for four-and-a-half-hours and left only because the caterers had to start seating people for dinner.
We walked the students to the Sebastiani Theatre Thursday morning for the SVHS student films (incredible) and “Shakespeare High” (inspiring). It is obvious that Peter Hansen is one of those teachers who inspire students in a huge way. The films were emotional, polished, true to life, funny and the work of some seriously empowered students.
I handed out film passes to my students and encouraged them to be a part of the SIFF scene. Some engaged, some didn’t, but by Monday morning, all had stories to tell of the weekend. They were connected.
“Did you see the roller skaters? Damn dude.”
“Everyone was taking pictures by the sign. I wanted to set up a table and make some money.”
“That ‘Outro’ was soooo trippy.”
I just smiled and listened, happy that the wood and panels will be there next year.
Walt Williams has been teaching at Creekside School for 13 years.