Artwork created by Newtown High School National Honor Society Art Committee members was unveiled at Hawley Elementary School on Thursday, February 21, as part of a celebration to highlight the opening of the school’s new Reading Lounge.
The Reading Lounge has been in the works since the start of the school year, when school students, staff, parents, and volunteers held a car wash on September 30 to collect money for the venture. The car wash raised $1,547. Even before that, the Reading Lounge was a brainchild of Hawley teachers who visited Columbia University and learned from Lucy Calkins, a world renown leader in literacy, that the amount of reading students do is the most important predictor of reading success. The Hawley fourth grade teaching team took the lesson to heart, and so did the rest of the school.
“So we are always thinking of how to get our students to read more, get excited about reading, and finding opportunities for them to read,” said fourth grade teacher Lea Attanasio in September.
Excitement around the new Reading Lounge was palpable on Thursday, as students enthusiastically learned which authors were featured on artwork created by the NHS Honor Society Art Committee members.
Hawley Principal Jo-Ann Peters said at the assembly that the Reading Lounge would not have been possible without support from many. Beyond the car wash, another fundraising effort to cover the cost of the Reading Lounge was a silent auction held this winter.
A room too small to be used as a classroom, which was formerly used for small group meetings, located near the fourth grade classrooms was converted into the Reading Lounge. A calming blue was chosen for the wall color, along with a speckled blue carpet.
Black couches, chairs, and an ottoman were a hit with students at the assembly on Thursday, when photos of Reading Lounge were presented in a slideshow. Students had to wait until the following day, Friday, to visit the space for the first time, so the artwork created by the high school students could be put in place.
It was Ms Sheskin, Ms Peters said, that noted the need of art in the new Reading Lounge. The walls were bare, save for the blue paint and long rectangles of bulletin board along two of the walls. Hooks were put in place to use the bulletin boards as the area to hang the artwork.
Each high school artist was tasked with creating art based on an author. Some of the students worked in teams. To unveil the art, Ms Sheskin named characters for the students assembled in the schools gym, and the students had to name each author before that piece of art could be shown for the first time at the school.
The student artists and their assigned authors were: Michelle Green, Mo Willems; Leah Pinckney, Beverly Cleary; Jen Davies, Victoria Kokoszka, and Mary Vodola, A.A. Milne; Heather Leone and Colleen Fahy, Judy Blume; Michelle Rekofsky J.K. Rowling; Leah Pinckney was also given E.B. White; Caitlyn Gibney and Natalie Dieckman, Roald Dahl; Kelly O’ Sullivan, Eric Carle; Victoria Hanulik, Dr Seuss; and David Swigart, Maurice Sendak.
Leah was in charge of overseeing the project for the National Honor Society Art Committee.