LAYTON -- The North Davis Preparatory Academy has extended its Spanish immersion instruction to include the school's entryway pillars.
The four pillars, forming the main entrance into the junior high portion of the Layton charter school, at 1591 W. Hill Field Road, are wrapped with about 9,000 randomly shaped, multi-colored ceramic tile pieces to create a mosaic art display.
The tiles were placed under the direction of Sandy-based artist Robert Whiting.
The work, which academy students helped complete by drawing mosaic art designs and breaking ceramic tiles into pieces, is inspired by the mosaic art work that artist Antonio Gaudi created in Park Guell in Barcelona, Spain, school officials said.
The project for the academy -- the state's first International Spanish Academy, which emphasizes instruction in Spanish language and Spanish culture -- was funded by a $1,725 Art Access grant and a combined contribution of $550 from the school and POET (Parents Organized Executive Team), the school's parent support group.
"(Gaudi) saw beauty in something that is normally utilitarian," Whiting said of the wraps, which feature a theme based on the 1913 book "Fairy Tales from Spain" by J. Munoz Escamez.
"I don't believe in money limiting my vision," said Whiting, who was applying the finishing touches to the project on Friday, the academy's last day of school before summer recess.
Whiting said the project, which he began to work on in September 2011, is a wonderful portfolio piece for him.
But for school faculty, the mosaic is an exterior extension of what the academy is teaching inside the classrooms.
"We wanted to show from the outside that our students are immersed in studying Spanish culture," said Chantal Esquivias, NDPA Spanish teacher. "I really think it makes us different and that was our whole idea."
Students were equally pleased with what they had accomplished in working with Whiting.
"I hit the tiles with a hammer," said seventh grader Aubrie Wyss, who served as a pseudo-demolition expert on the project, breaking the square-foot tiles into smaller pieces and gluing them to the glass fiber mesh wrap.
Gerrod VanEngen and Samson Schindler, both ninth-graders, did grout work.
"It makes the school not look so plain," Schindler said.
And Camille Bagnani, a seventh grader, was particularly proud of the "boy" image she had drawn, which made its way into the mosaic.
"It's nice to know that something I drew will be on the school forever," she said.
Members of POET are also singing the praises of the project.
"We had this vision of what it was going to look like, but this is amazing," POET President Kim Valeika said.
The academy is considering a similar art project with the two pillars forming the main entrance to its elementary school building, Esquivias said.