OGDEN -- Students at Polk Elementary School did a special project last month in their art class -- telling the story of Cinderella with art.
The big bonus with the project is that their stories will be told at Weber State University's storytelling festival this week in art form. More than 160 Polk students have art displayed at the Eccles Conference Center, Stewart Library, Weber County Pleasant Valley Branch Library and Polk Elementary itself.
Shelly Ripplinger, the school's media specialist, sits on the steering committee for the WSU storytelling festival. When the idea was brought up to display art along with the Cinderella panel discussion held in conjunction with the festival, she immediately thought of her own elementary school's art.
Polk has had an art specialist, Jana Anderson, for the past six years. When the art program at the school first began, it was paid for with PTA funds, but it is now funded by the school's community council and land trust funds. The program is unique in that each student spends from September through March in special art lessons every other week. The program is set up so the students learn about art media ranging from chalk to watercolor to clay.
Anderson liked the idea of helping the students with the Cinderella project.
"We didn't have as much time as I would have liked, but once the kids caught on to what we were doing, they really loved it," Anderson said.
Ripplinger worked with Anderson to get the students thinking about drawing Cinderella. She shared several versions of the fairy tale from various countries with the students.
"So many of the kids think of Disney when they think of Cinderella, I wanted to get them thinking of the literature," Ripplinger said.
Once she had planted the seed of telling the story, Anderson took over with the watercolors and drawing. With the younger students she gave more direction, having them draw the castle or pumpkin carriage however they wanted to. With the older students, their options were limitless.
Once the artwork was done, Anderson explained to the youngsters a little about how art is selected for shows. Ripplinger and a PTA volunteer selected the art without knowing which students had created the work. Once the art was selected for a venue, letters went home to notify parents.
Art at the Pleasant Valley Branch and Stewart libraries will be on display for a couple of weeks past the storytelling festival.
Asia Rostkowski's art was selected, leaving the sixth-grader surprised and excited to have her artwork on display.
"It was in between hard and easy to tell a story with my art," Asia said.
Chandler Harper's art also was chosen. Last year his fifth-grade class did a production of Cinderella and he loved being able to make a scene from that musical come alive.
"I was thinking about the play and how I would have made the pumpkin carriage," he said.
Ripplinger was excited to hear of the students' experiences with the art.
"It's all in the power of the story," she said.
She has watched the art program over the years and loves the way it has helped the students to think.
"It's amazing what they do when they learn from someone who has been trained," Ripplinger said.
Anderson liked the Cinderella painting opportunity because it shows how important right-brained learning is.
"We always get funding cut for art, but people don't see how it develops critical thinking," Anderson said. She thinks it's important to showcase projects like this because they demonstrate that development.
Asia has spent her elementary school life coming to art classes taught by Anderson and has loved every minute of it. On Tuesday the students just finished up clay modeling, which they all said was their favorite.
"I like it all because I get to express myself," Asia said, as she proudly displayed her clay creation.
* Displays at the Eccles Conference Center and WSU Stewart Library Special Collections will be up during the festival, Feb. 22 - 24.
* The Weber County Library Pleasant Valley Branch display will be up through the end of March.