art

STEAM night inspired students

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The students and families who came to the STEAM night March 5 had an electrifying and hair-raising experience with the fun and educational activities highlighting Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math.

Attendees got hands-on experience with a Van De Graaf generator to learn about electricity, drove a robot from the Nashoba High School Robotics Club, saw the workings of a telescope, watched filtering of liquid mixtures, participated in math activities, listened to stories and created crafts.

STEAM night is an annual event attracting more than 100 people and is organized by South Lancaster Academy's Home and School Association. Dionne Blackwell, a parent and engineer who also volunteers her time to lead SLA's Robotics Club, invited the presenters to share their knowledge with the students.

"We were fortunate to have wonderful and enthusiastic presenters that interacted with us and kept everyone excited about their various topics," said Tish Brahmia, science teacher. "It was wonderful watching students' eyes light up as they were able to experience the Van De Graaf machine or control a robot."

Students place in art contest

Stephanie De Abreu and Emma Ciccone with their photographs.

Stephanie De Abreu and Emma Ciccone with their photographs.

Two eighth-graders placed in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards regional competition sponsored by the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and the Boston Globe. Stephanie De Abreu's untitled photograph received the Silver Key award and Emma Ciccone's photograph titled, "Blue Eyed Susan," received an Honorable Mention.

The students faced stiff competition as they were among 18,000 teens submitting in 29 categories to this statewide contest. Teens have a chance for their art or writing pieces to earn scholarships and be exhibited and published. The awards presented are Gold Key, Silver Key and Honorable Mention with the winners of the Gold Key advancing to national judging in New York.

Art teacher, Veronica Iria, encouraged her students from grades 7 through 12 to participate. Two other eighth-graders also submitted their work to the highly competitive painting category: Paula Gibbons submitted her painting, "II Pittore nella Pittura," and Alyssa Mapes submitted her painting, "Look to a New Day." Mrs. Iria emphasized how proud she was of the hours and effort they put into their work. She looks forward to seeing more submissions from SLA students next year. 

The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, founded in 1923, has recognized many famous writers and artists while they were still teens, among them Truman Capote, Joyce Carol Oates and Andy Warhol.

Fascinating facts about studying the arts

Check out these stats on how studying the arts, which include drama, music and visual art, improve students overall education:

1. Students involved in the arts are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement.

2. Low-income students who are highly engaged in the arts are more than twice as likely to graduate college as their peers with no arts education.

3. Students with an education rich in the arts have historically earned higher grade point averages and scored higher on the SAT than student without art education.

4. Students who take four years of art and music classes average almost 100 points higher on their SATs than students who take one half year or less.

5. Students who are involved in the arts are four times more likely to participate in a math and science fair, three times more likely to win an award for school attendance, four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement and three times more likely to be elected for class office.

6. 72% of business leaders say that creativity is the number one skill they are seeking when hiring.

Source: www.americansforthearts.org

Veronica Iria emphasizes expression while expanding Art Department

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"Art is so much more than just looking at something beautiful. What are you trying to say with your artwork?"

SLA’s art department is expanding thanks to our talented teacher Veronica Iria. Now in her second year of teaching, Mrs. Iria is teaching Art 1 and Art 2 to grades 9-12, teaching art to the 7th and 8th graders, and sponsoring the extracurricular Art Club that meets after school.

“My goal is to expose kids to a variety of different art forms. One of the biggest things for me is expression. Expressing themselves in different ways and tap into their creativity with the different projects that they work on,” said Mrs. Iria.

Mrs. Iria likes to talk to her students about the most amazing artist she knows who creates landscapes with a great use of color and is a sculptor too. “Whenever an artist is being inspired to paint a landscape, they’re being inspired by God as an artist,” she said. “One of the projects I have coming up for the 7th and 8th graders, as well as for Art 1, is creating a devotional out of a work of art. That’s one thing that makes me really excited about teaching here at an SDA school is that I can approach a project in that way.”

Another aspect of studying the arts that Mrs. Iria likes to highlight is how it can help in all academic subjects. For instance when students have to decide how to express an idea and what materials would work best to do that they are using their critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. For more information about how art improves student outcomes, see the accompanying article, “Fascinating facts about studying the arts.”

Mrs. Iria has plans on how she’d like to grow the art program here. “One of the goals that I would love to do is to bring more specialized classes, so maybe one that’s specifically drawing or one that’s specifically printmaking. I would love to put together a proposal for a kiln and offer a ceramic class.”

Art Club is a new addition this year and that came about because the students from Art 2 initiated the idea. Those students were working on a sculpturing project using found items. One student decided to create a wedding dress from a plastic drop cloth. It sparked discussion in the class about what this piece of art could mean. “Art is so much more than just looking at something beautiful. What are you trying to say with your artwork?” said Mrs. Iria. “This project that started as ‘it’s going to be cool to make a wedding dress out of plastic’ turned into a whole commentary on marriage and how society nowadays looks at marriage as something you can just throw out.”

Besides working on personal choice projects under the guidance of Mrs. Iria, the Art Club also participated in Impact New Bedford in September and painted a mural for the evangelistic event. Since then, they’ve been asked to paint many other murals as well and had to even turn down some requests due to time. This after-school club meets for an hour twice a week.

Mrs. Iria left an unsatisfying career in finance to pursue art when she realized how happy she was working with kids and preparing art projects for Adventurers and Pathfinders. “That’s what a career should be, something that you enjoy doing every day and doesn’t feel like work.”

She re-enrolled at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell in 2013, where she had studied marketing and management for three years before starting her family, to study art full-time. She studied many art forms--sculpture, painting, drawing, illustrating, graphic design and printmaking--so that she would have a broad background to teach art. She graduated this last May and splits her time teaching art part-time at both SLA and Greater Boston Academy.

Mrs. Iria and her husband, Paul, a production planner for Laser Services in Westford, have two children. Daughter Elena graduated from SLA in 2017 and now attends Southern Adventist University and son Miguel is a 9th grader at SLA.

Watch for students’ art work to be on display in the loft in the academy building near the end of the school year.