By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Thomas Street Elementary School students made rockets from paper towel rolls, met local authors, painted with balloons and listened to music.
The school’s annual Arts Festival was filled with activities that took place throughout the day Friday. The event is intended both as an end-of-year celebration and a culmination of its efforts to include creative writing, visual arts, dance, drama and music in regular classroom activities.
Thomas Street is a model school in the Mississippi Arts Commission’s Arts Integration Program.
“To me, this is the beginning of the culmination of the year,” said Principal Kay Collins. “This is a time for us to celebrate the hard work we’ve done all year.”
Students began the day with a dance in the school hallway and then spent the rest of the morning visiting with authors or creating visual art work. The theme was “Elevate the Arts,” and the student creations related to flying objects.
Kindergartners painted with bubbles and decorated kites, first-graders created rockets and dipped balloons into paint to make patterns and second-graders assembled birds from sheets of scrapbook paper and put designs on plastic boomerangs.
“I think the arts festival is about the funnest place on Earth,” said first-grader Elizabeth Witcher, 7, who added she enjoys getting messy.
Visiting authors included Louis Rowles, Diane Page and Barbara Homan.
During the afternoon, each student released a balloon with a note attached about what he or she likes about the arts. They also made Mother’s Day gifts.
Media Center Specialist Christy Jordan, second-grade teacher Jenny Chandler and challenge teacher Tara Harris help direct the school’s arts integration efforts during the year.
“The Common Core is all about real-world experiences, and what we are doing is providing the students with more real-world experiences,” Jordan said. “A lot of them don’t have an opportunity to meet an author or an illustrator or go to a theater, and we are providing them with that.
“When we have people like that come in and talk to our children, it helps them to make connections.”