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Recycled Art Challenge Inspires Students to ‘Go Green’


"Working Class"Student artists in kindergarten through 12th grade celebrated the “go green” effort by participating in a recycled art challenge organized by producers of the “Working Class” public television documentary series.

Based on themes explored in the Telly Award-winning documentary “Working Class: Build & Grow Green,” the recycled art challenge sought to inspire innovation while reducing waste. Elementary and secondary students turned trash into treasure by using ordinary art materials to transform discarded items into works of art.

Brooke Dorman’s “Victory Garden,” a bouquet of paper flowers representing a page from the artist’s family history, was the favorite entry from students in kindergarten through sixth grade. She is student at Carl G. Renn Elementary School, Lairdsville.
Brooke Dorman’s “Victory Garden,” a bouquet of paper flowers representing a page from the artist’s family history, was the favorite entry from students in kindergarten through sixth grade. She is student at Carl G. Renn Elementary School, Lairdsville.
Brooke Dorman
Brooke Dorman

Series producers, Pennsylvania College of Technology and WVIA Public Media, selected “Victory Garden” – a bouquet of paper flowers representing a page from the artist’s family history – as the favorite entry from students in kindergarten through sixth grade.

Brooke Dorman, a fifth-grade student at Carl G. Renn Elementary School in Lairdsville, made the flowers by cutting and quilling (rolling, shaping and gluing together) paper strips from recycled bank checks that belonged to her great-grandparents. Dorman and her mother, Heather Dorman, who submitted the entry to the recycled art challenge, said their ancestors survived the Great Depression and World War II, and the flower bouquet represented victory gardens that were popular during that era.

“Reduce Your Carbon Footprint,” an imaginative sneaker created by Lauren Ogden, a 10th-grade student at South Williamsport Area High School, was selected as the judges’ favorite among entries from students in grades seven through 12. The entry was submitted by Ogden’s art teacher, Betsy Jones.

“Reduce Your Carbon Footprint,” an imaginative sneaker created by Lauren Ogden, a 10th-grade student at South Williamsport Area High School, was selected as the judges’ favorite among entries from students in grades seven through 12.
“Reduce Your Carbon Footprint,” an imaginative sneaker created by Lauren Ogden, a 10th-grade student at South Williamsport Area High School, was selected as the judges’ favorite among entries from students in grades seven through 12.
Lauren Ogden
Lauren Ogden

Inspired by a preference for athletic footwear – “At the time, I was going through sort of a phase wearing Converse sneakers every day,” Ogden explained – she made the sneaker from old cassette tapes, plastic CD cases, a gift bag, metal springs and a cardboard cracker box.

DeMario Baer, an eighth-grade student who attends the Intermediate Unit 17, Alternative Education program, earned recognition for innovation in meeting the challenge. He made a snowman, named “Mr. Keebs,” which featured red and blue LED lights powered by a simple circuit board with batteries that was taken from a broken stress ball.

In addition to the circuit board and switch that powered its lights, Baer used plastic bottle caps, soda can tabs and modeling clay to build the snowman. His entry was submitted by his teacher, George Ness.

Each student received a basket of books and supplies from the series producers. Their work appears on the “Working Class” website and on social media via Facebook and Twitter.

DeMario Baer, an eighth-grade student who attends the Intermediate Unit 17, Alternative Education program, earned recognition for innovation in meeting the challenge with his snowman, “Mr. Keebs,” which featured red and blue LED lights powered by a simple circuit board with batteries (taken from a broken stress ball).
DeMario Baer, an eighth-grade student who attends the Intermediate Unit 17, Alternative Education program, earned recognition for innovation in meeting the challenge with his snowman, “Mr. Keebs,” which featured red and blue LED lights powered by a simple circuit board with batteries (taken from a broken stress ball).
DeMario Baer
DeMario Baer

Judges also voted to provide a selection of art supplies to the Canton Area Elementary School art program and teacher Courtney Grieve for group participation in the challenge. Fifteen Canton Elementary students, in kindergarten through third grade, impressed the judges with their combined talents and creativity.

“The purpose of the ‘Working Class’ series is to call attention to the importance of connecting classroom and real-life experiences,” said Elaine J. Lambert, executive producer of the series. “Encouraging K-12 students to apply their curiosity and creativity to practical, hands-on learning experiences helps to prepare them for future challenges in life, including college and careers.”

The next “Working Class” art challenge deadline is May 18. “Game On” invites K-12 students, teachers and parents to create original board games or video games. The challenge is inspired by “Working Class: Game On! Math Matters,” which can be viewed on WVIA On Demand, YouTube and the series’ website. Those who wish to enter may submit entries for the “Game On” art challenge via email, with an attached digital photo (JPEG file) of the original game board or a screen image of the video game in play.

A separate email is required for each entry and must include the following information: a title and brief description of the game; entry category (student K-six, student seven-12 or teacher/parent); artist name; grade; school (or homeschool); city and state; teacher/parent name; and email address.

Email entries and questions to Lambert.

Films produced for the series are available free online through the “Working Class” and WVIA websites.

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