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'You get to use your imagination'

When elementary school kids say they like art, they don't mean they like every minute of art class.

"I like some projects but some are kind of boring," said Kaylie Dimmick. "But you get to use your imagination."

Dimmick, a fifth-grader at Grey Cloud Elementary School, is getting art classes from a teacher-specialist for the first time in her elementary-school experience because School District 833 hired 14 art specialists who began work in September.

Dimmick's attitude is typical of most students, said Jodi Watkins, art specialist. It depends on the project and the medium whether they like art or not, she said during an art class March 11 where students were making clay whistles.

Watkins smiled as a student walked back to his worktable with a clump of clay. "This is so fun," said the student to no one in particular.

The fifth and sixth-grade clay whistle project takes six weeks to complete and includes two firings in the school's kiln and students learning how to apply color glazes in one hour per week classes.

Watkins told the students to experiment with clay during the first week. Many students have not worked with clay before, she said.

Clay-whistle instructions are posted in the art room and students are encouraged to consult them if they have questions.

"There's so much problem solving in art," Watkins said. "If a mistake happens, how do you solve it? It's another way to look at mistakes."

Before beginning to build clay whistles, Watkins demonstrated how it's done. Students made two small bowls and attached them to create a hollow middle where sound develops.

Students then created their whistles with all possible shapes emerging from imaginary animals to more realistic depictions

Tory Thompson, who enjoys free-hand drawing created a platypus whistle. Like the other students, he used a Popsicle stick to create the mouthpiece.

"It's my favorite animal," he said, "for awhile at least. I've never worked with clay before. It's okay."

Matt Kryser, who had his whistle ready for firing, said three-dimensional drawings and making a picture using only one line were his favorite art assignments.

One of Kryser's pictures will be included in an art show later this year. To see more art created by Grey Cloud Elementary School students go online to and click on Grey Cloud School, then "Art Gallery."

Judy Spooner can be reached at

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
(651) 459-7600