The eight-week middle school creative class culminates in a third-place win for one of our creative middle school students.
Ciudad Nueva’s middle school students are invited to participate in a creative class every Tuesday afternoon. The class changes about every eight weeks with many different topics explored including cooking, sports, technology, and any other great ideas we think the students would enjoy.
Our current Border Fellow, Lexi Moles, is also a volunteer in the middle school program and was looking forward to her turn to teach an eight-week session of the Tuesday class focused on the environment and art.
Middle school metamorphosis
Lexi knew about an art competition called “Metamorphosis” hosted by El Dorado High School. The event was focused on raising awareness about environmental issues in the El Paso area, and Lexi decided it would be a perfect inspiration for her turn at leading the middle school creative class.
“I didn’t know if we would actually end up submitting projects,” says Lexi. “When I told the students about the details, they seemed excited; however, the focus of the class was about enjoying the process of creating while we learned.”
Lexi spent a short portion of each class presenting some challenges we face in caring for the environment. She presented a short lesson and included YouTube videos and lots of interactive discussions with the class.
“They were shocked at some of the ways that trash is polluting our oceans and didn’t know the negative effects of plastic,” says Lexi. “They were really interested in all of it and wanted to know how they can personally help prevent pollution.”
Creativity and connection
After learning about the environmental issues, the students spent time creating artwork inspired by their
“They enjoyed moving around and interacting with their friends after sitting all day at school,” says Lexi. “It was nice doing something relaxing and fun together, like painting and gluing. They were learning, but they were also socializing and deepening friendships within the group.”
Lexi also found the time spent exploring art and creativity gave her a chance to connect with each student.
“It was really special to hang out with them, hear about their day, and work on their projects with them while we listened to music,” says Lexi. “It was a really relaxed atmosphere.”
El Dorado High School has a warehouse where they collect recycled items that can be taken and reused for free, so Lexi took some students there to collect items that the class could transform into artwork. They had a lot of fun on that short field trip, imagining how many of the items could be transformed.
“The class and art competition were valuable to the middle schoolers,” says Simon Lu, the middle school coordinator. “Nearly all of them were engaged in class and wanted to continue working outside of class time, which is unusual, and most of them produced wonderful pieces of art.”
Process over product
Some of the students explored, built, and created but never actually completed a finished product. The product, after all, was not the goal. Everyone learned about environmental issues and enjoyed the artistic process along the way.
However, four students actually did complete projects and entered them into the “Metamorphosis” contest:
David created a car out of a large cardboard box using glue, plates, cups, and other recycled items. He even spelled out the word “Jeep” on the front.
Cathy and Estella teamed up to work on a miniature model of the earth, representing the different seasons. Their tiny six-inch earth included beads and paint and many other materials, and it turned out beautiful.
Jennifer built a lamp out of bottle caps, paint, wiring, and wood.
“Jennifer really took off with it and was excited about her project,” says Lexi. “She blew my expectations out of the water. She was so hard-working and always looking for feedback from me.”
An unexpected celebration
Jennifer’s project — and her dedication — really impressed Lexi. She built a working lamp that included electrical wiring. It was made of bottle caps painted light blue, glued together with a light bulb mounted in the center. When illuminated, the light reflects off the painted bottle caps beautifully.
Lexi wasn’t the only one who recognized that Jennifer’s piece was unique and well done.
“About a month later I got an email saying that hers had been chosen to be displayed at an exhibition,” says Lexi. “Out of 450 total art projects submitted, hers was one of the top 10% that was picked. From that 10% Jennifer’s was picked as 3rd place in the middle school category.”
Jennifer was so surprised and so proud of her hard work.
“I felt excited and kind of nervous,” says Jennifer. “The idea for the project just came to my mind, and I knew that I had tried my best in the end.”
The art exhibit was an amazing day that included live music, food, and, of course, all the top artwork in each category: middle school, high school, and adult. Seeing Jennifer’s family at the exhibit, beaming with pride, was very special for Lexi.
“Her mom was so proud of her,” says Lexi. “Jennifer put so much hard work into her piece, and I loved seeing it recognized and celebrated. That was the best part for me.”
More creativity to come
Jennifer definitely recommends the middle school creative class to her friends and plans to enter the contest again next year.
“You will have a lot of fun, and people will help you and tell you are able to do this,” says Jennifer. “And you can win!”
Lexi also has many more creative ideas to share with her middle schoolers. She is looking forward to spending more time with them next year as the middle school coordinator. (Look for a blog post about that coming up soon!) Lexi would like to enter the same contest with the students next year but is looking for someone to volunteer as an “artist-in-residence” here at Ciudad Nueva.
“I would love to find someone who is artistically inclined to lead the class and other art projects we have going on,” says Lexi. “We also have some other ideas to explore for the middle school creative class such as a technology unit that would include making robots and learning about coding.”
Do you have an artistic or other type of gift that you would enjoy sharing with middle school students? The middle school creative class changes every eight weeks and new ideas are always welcome! Call us today at 915.521.2951 or click here if you would love to get involved with our creative, fun, and hard-working students like Jennifer!