The fifth grade at CCES and I started the school year by going outside and observing leaves, not perfect leaves but leaves with character and leaves that tell a story.  Students were to choose 3 interesting leaves that were different in shape and size.  After closely observing the lines in their leaves they did contour line drawings of the shape as well as interior lines showing the patterns of the veins, They started with pencil and then traced their lines with oil crayons.  A watercolor resist followed. When dry, the leaves were cut out and glitter was added for a bit of holiday sparkle.  We call this the day the glitter bomb hits the art room!  The best part is the glitter trail that leaves our art room and creates paths throughout the school, all leading back to the art room.

Lessons learned included close observation, contour line drawing, color theory, refined scissor cutting, not to mention making creative personal choices (we call it having an artist's license).  Once the leaves are finished the students were given a variety of wire, beads, needle nosed pliers and asked to make a creative hanger for their leaf.  With a short demo and a firm instruction to wear plastic eye protection at all times, they were given the freedom to learn through doing and experimenting.  The newness of the the materials was enticing for the students and after a few moments of uncertainty, their creativity took off and the results were truly stunning!!!  

So my swan song, as I am retiring after this year, is making the traditional, but always spectacular Xmas tree decorations with the 5th grade.  CCES Middle School has an entry for Greenville's Annual Festival of Trees each year.  The Middle School Arts Guild is instrumental in making this project possible. The MS Arts Guild plans, arranging parental help in the classroom as well as assembling and finally transports the decorations and other decorations to the Hyatt House in downtown Greenville.  What follows is 2 to 3 days of intense brainstorming about how to put it all together to highlight the student work.  I had the pleasure this year of helping with this part and working with all the enthusiastic and creative parents who want most of all to make the students proud when they see their work on the Middle School  Might I add that winning 2nd place and then 1st last year put the pressure on to go bigger, better, brighter, taller and of course even more creative and eye catching!  Middle School Arts Guild President Allison Spinks and I especially take this project seriously every year and together we put the finishing touches on the tree this year.  As you might imagine Allison and I love this project and have entirely too much fun from working with the excited and enthusiastic students to decorating the tree with the Arts Guild!!!

This year special thanks goes to Diane Talbert who led the 5th grade in a creative writing project on little green tags available for people to pick up and add to their own tree from our tree. Message was student thoughts about the importance of trees along meaning descriptions of their personal thoughts about the meaning and memories of trees and leaves.  Deep thought, creativity, sensitivity, and skill went in this writing project.   The students messages had to be brief and tiny in size but their messages were so mighty, and so profound that they brought tears to our eyes as we read them.  Way to go Mrs. Talbert.  You know the secret to inspiring messages that are so fresh, sensitive and heartfelt that only the purity of the thought process of a 5th grader could have created them.  Congratulations Diane for putting the REAL finishing touch on this project!  Your project was THE MESSAGE and the voice for this special 5th grade project.  YOU are a master teacher and I am always proud to work with you.!

Love and thanks to the 5th grade students, parent volunteers, MS Arts Guild and teachers for your help with this fine collaboration, I also want to thank you for making my last year at CCES the meaningful and memorable year I hoped it would be.