Portland welding students add artistry to Scarborough school

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PORTLAND — Welding students at Portland Arts and Technology High School are creating a decorative fence for the garden at Wentworth School in Scarborough.

Creating the fence is a community service project for the students at PATHS, according to welding instructor Bill Presby, who said he has 32 students from 12 sending schools taking part, including one from Scarborough.

The goal is for the fence to essentially become a gallery space for outdoor art and science projects with a kinesthetic, or tactile learning, component that also involves movement, Wentworth Principal Kelli Crosby said.

The idea for the fence came from teacher Catherine Hewitt, “who is one of our school garden champions,” Crosby said. Hewitt then involved art teacher Joanne Maloney, as well as Sarah Athearn and Branden Johnson, who teach science technology, engineering and math, or STEM, subjects.

The foursome formed a learning team “with a focus on using the outdoor environment as a classroom,” according to Crosby.

The project is being funded by a Scarborough Education Foundation grant and includes enough money to hire artist-in-residence Ann Thompson, who will work with Wentworth students to create wire sculptures for display on the fence.

In addition, Crosby said, the education foundation is also funding the cost of a Pedal-a-Watt bicycle generator to place in the garden for students to use at recess to both create alternative energy and enjoy physical fitness.

Students in the fifth-grade STEM classes designed the fence through drawings and 3D models, Crosby said. The themes that emerged included creating specially designed panels separately depicting an ocean, marsh, meadow and forest.

Maloney, Athearn and Johnson also selected specific design elements from several other students to be incorporated, including a bird on a branch and a moose in the mountain scene, and a dragonfly and frog in the marsh scene.

“We copied their drawings as best we could,” Presby said in explaining how the students at PATHS have gone about building the fence. “We had a lot of cutting to do and the measuring had to be precise,” he added.

He said each of the decorative panels took about three hours to complete and there is one left – the marsh scene.

Along with the panels, the students at PATHS are also creating 26 rings, or discs, which were all hand rolled. The idea is for the rings to look like bubbles, which will be used to display students’ art.

In creating the decorative panels, Presby said his students took the time to add “coloration and depth” to each of the scenes in order “to add a touch of artistry.”

In all, Presby said the fence would incorporate two sections that are 6 feet high and 10 feet long each that “will serve as a gateway to the outdoor classroom space.”

Presby hopes the fence will be completed by April vacation, which this year starts Monday, April 17. He said it would be up to the Scarborough School Department to transport the fence from PATHS to Wentworth and install it.

Students at PATHS would likely end up spending between 20 and 30 hours creating the fence, Presby estimated.

“We do community service projects like this several times a year, and we’re happy to do it when we can fit it in around the regular curriculum.”

Crosby said the teachers at Wentworth reached out to several area vocational schools to see if they would be interested in building the fence; Presby “graciously agreed to work with us and make our ideas come to fruition.”

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or kcollins@theforecaster.net. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KirishCollins.

Students at Portland Arts and Technology High School are creating a specialty fence for the garden at Wentworth School in Scarborough. From left are Ell Jolley and Liz Lentz, from Deering High School; Joseph Hughes, Portland High School; Joshua Velazquez, Gray-New Gloucester High School; Cody Mains, Bonny Eagle; Cooper Watson, Portland, and Alex Pandiscio, South Portland. 

A delicate, detailed meadow flower from a decorative fence students at Portland Arts and Technology High School are building for Wentworth School in Scarborough.

The garden at Wentworth School in Scarborough.

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