KINGSTON — By springtime, the drab courtyard of the NK Options program at Gordon Elementary will be tiled with a mosaic touch of bright colors.
Options, a multi-age family-based learning alternative for students, recently coordinated its artistic efforts to create thematic illustrations out of a community of ceramic tiles. After students designed and painted the tiles in their classrooms, Options parent Holly Dalphinidae took the artwork to be fired at the Dancing Paint Brush in Poulsbo.
At first glance, the mosaic pieces seem like a chaotic combination. But their underlying coordination speaks to the theme of the student, parent and teacher community, Options teacher Sue Dazey said, surveying her group’s finished product Jan. 22.
Students were separated into three different multi-aged groups during the fall 2006. Meeting approximately once a week, the groups flexed their creative muscles to design and paint more than 100 3-inch tiles under one theme.
“They learned how hard it is to coordinate 30 different people into one idea,” Dazey said. Each student was given four tiles and each group was tasked with compromising on one idea.
After much discussion, Dazey’s group arrived at the theme of time.
“We were talking about the earth and someone came up with time,” said fourth grader Stian Josok. “There was kind of a lot of debate over whose (tiles) were going to go where, then some people had to do extras.”
The result is a tiled background of many different representations and interpretations of time, all drawn together with an enormous analog clock.
Across the courtyard, another group focused on the theme of earth, while the final group centered around an eyeball encompassing a yin-yang.
Though students didn’t learn a great deal about the subject which their groups chose as a theme, the education of the project came in the category of teamwork — across all ages, Dazey said.
“There was a lot of kids teaching kids,” she said. “That was good because the younger kids don’t spend a lot of time with the older kids.”
At one point in the yin-yang group, the older children — the Jhoppers or junior high school students — started trying to dictate the project’s theme, but the younger students wouldn’t have their creativity stifled.
“We kept the yin-yang eye, but we did whatever we wanted on the (other) tiles,” said fourth grader April Beckett.
In the end, most students were able to inject their ideas into a project that will soon benefit their entire community.
“We were going to put them on the outside of the building, just to decorate a little bit,” Dazey said.