SYRACUSE -- Cook Elementary students pulled out all the stops for their recent arts and crafts night, with an 8-foot dragon boasting 800 scales, a rain forest decorated with florescent umbrellas, and a wind tunnel down one hallway with hundreds of Tibetan prayer flags designed by each student flapping from the breeze created by fans.
The event was inspired by fifth-grade teacher Kathy Shelton's visit to the Salt Lake Arts Festival a year ago.
"I looked at their children's art yard and thought if they could do it with 200 kids, there's no reason why we can't do it with 700," Shelton said.
Using the elements of the earth as the focus, each student created pieces of artwork that were then used for the bigger projects and revealed at the arts night.
Among the pieces were the scales for the 8-foot papier-mache dragon, the snowflakes creating a gallery in the gym, and a river system made entirely of artwork running down the hall.
The school's administration tries to incorporate the seven habits of highly effective people in the curriculum.
Synergy was deemed a perfect trait for use during arts night, Shelton said.
"In synergy, where everyone adds something, the arts night means we can work together as a school, and if everybody just adds a little piece, you can use people's strengths, learn from them and value differences," she said.
Several teachers noticed how excited the students were to be involved in something bigger than themselves.
"The kids were anxious to go see what they've done, especially since they know their piece, but they don't know how the full piece would look," fourth-grade teacher Alzina Barnhill said while hanging the last few snowflakes in the gallery showing off hundreds of the paper designs.
The kids emitted squeals of delight as they found their artwork and showed off their creations.
Principal Loren Clark said the staff enlarged the program last year and the momentum it created carried over to this year.
"It's great because the kids get to share lots of different types of art."
With hundreds of attendees, many parents were in awe of the school's transformation.
"I think it's wonderful since the school looks very festive, and it was a surprise to see how much the kids have done at school," said Michelle Davis, mother of fifth-grader Ari Davis.
Ari was excited to show off the dragonfly she made in the make-and-take area.
"I love art because it's creative and very beautiful," she said.
The highlight of the night for fourth-grader Chase McDaniel was the room with a liquid nitrogen demonstration.
Fifth-grade teacher Robin Parkinson showed students how they could dip an egg into the liquid nitrogen and then smash it into confetti.
She then froze small graham crackers that students put on their tongues. Parkinson reminded the students their tongue is moist, protecting it from the frozen cracker, but to keep their dry lips away from the iced graham cracker.
Chase said: "It was my favorite part because it looked like smoke was coming out of my mouth and nose."