Scarlett Media Center boasts inspiring, student-created sculpture

Chris Cerniglia, with one of the next sculptures honoring an IB core principle.
Chris Cerniglia, with one of the sculptures honoring an IB core principle. This year’s art students will complete the few sculptures that weren’t quite finished by last year’s students.

Story and photos by Jo Mathis

AAPS District News Editor

Every month through the end of the school year, the Scarlett Middle School media center will add a striking new piece of sculpture that will not only beautify the space, but remind students of the core principles of International Baccalaureate learning.

It began last fall when the Scarlett PTSO approached art teacher Chris Cerniglia about adding some paintings to the media center, preferably tied to the IB global learning philosophy embraced at Mitchell, Scarlett and Huron.

“This was an excellent opportunity for our students to begin to familiarize themselves with the (IB) learner profile words,” said Cerniglia, referring to last year’s eighth graders, who created the sculptures. “I thought the IB learner profile words were an awesome opportunity for some inquiry-based learning for my sculpture component of my ceramics and sculpture class. This also carried over into my Art and The Environment class in fourth quarter, which was equally appropriate.”

Media Center specialist Anne, sitting beneath the first of the 10 sculptures, points out the blank walls where the others will be hung.
Media Center specialist Anne Colvin, sitting beneath the first of the 10 sculptures, points out the blank walls where the others will be hung.

The PTSO gave the art department a $330 grant for materials needed for the project.

Using the work of minimalist artist Frank Stella for inspiration, the eighth graders worked in groups spanning 10 weeks to create the raised wall painting sculpture reliefs.

Media Center Specialist Anne Colvin gathered pages of quotes to help students get a better concept of what their group word meant.  Each sculpture has a quote that accompanies it.

“With all the layers of depth that they bring to a standard idea, they produce amazing things,” said Colvin. “They do a really good job of getting to the heart of the concept.”

There was a very intentional, and “International minded” process to breaking down and collaging the words and their meanings, Cerniglia said. That was followed by a representational painting that visually spoke to the word that they were given.

“In a strange way, the words seemed to find the students, as some had strengths or weaknesses associated with the word that was given them,” he said.  “It was wonderful watching them sort out the inner truths of their individual and group dynamics around the word.”

Cerniglia intends to install one sculpture each month to support our learner profile word of the month.

“The first one is Inquirers, which I like because it’s one of the only sculptures they didn’t add the actual word to it,” said Cerniglia. “Some of them actual say, `Knowledgeable’ or ‘Principled.’” But with inquirers, you actually have to figure out what it is.”

And that, he said, is what inquiring is all about.

Some of the sculptures have yet to be completed, and will be done so by this year’s eighth graders.

“The students who built the sculptures are now able to say they had a part in our candidacy for IB,” said Cerniglia, “and were able to leave a part of them on our walls to be shared by the students we serve.”

The first sculpture reflects the IB learner: Inquirer
The first sculpture represents the IB learner profile principle: Inquirer.

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