A summer filled with artPORTAGE | Andrea Riley has spent some of her summer days getting ready for Christmas.
A media clerk at Crisman Elementary School, Riley participated in a summer ceramics workshop organized by Portage High School art teacher Paula Wiese. During six classes over four weeks, she created a slew of ceramic snowflake ornaments for her Christmas tree. She made a vase and other items, as well.
More than a dozen students and Portage Township Schools staff members participated in the summer session created to give Wiese a chance to finish some work related to a $10,000 grant she received through BP's A+ for Energy program, which helps teachers fund projects promoting energy education and conservation in the classroom.
Students in Wiese's upper-level ceramics class created tabletop fountains that run with solar-powered pumps. She said she was planning to be at the school this summer, anyway, completing her report of the project. She had another reason for firing up the art room's kiln and spinning the pottery wheel into action this summer.
"I didn't get to make my fountain," Wiese said. "That was the most motivating."
Students paid $10 and staff members $30 to learn to make the ceramics. They were allowed to make as many items as they wanted over the class meetings, Wiese said.
"We get to make a lot," said Connie Melton, a home-school adviser at South Haven Elementary School. "She gave us some basic skills, and she let us make whatever we wanted."
Melton took the class with her daughter, 15-year-old Sarah, who will be a freshman at the high school in the fall. Sarah said she liked working with the pottery wheel. Others weren't such fans of the wheel.
"The only thing that was frustrating was the wheel," said Julie Whitten, a fifth-grade teacher at Jones Elementary School. "That pottery wheel is hard work."
Participants in the debut summer workshop already have signed up for next year's class, assuming Wiese gets permission from school administrators to offer it again.
"Any class where people want to be here is successful," Wiese said. "Then, it's easy. They motivate themselves."
(For pictures go to: http://nwi.com/articles/2008/07/09/news/porter_county/doc08d1bcf4573c91d4862574800057fcb9.txt)