By: Vivian Duncan
The Newnan High School Art department does much more than simply sit in class drawing portraits or painting pretty landscapes. The reach of their efforts extends into other academic departments at the school and even to other schools as well as the surrounding community.
The Newnan Art department, consisting of Jodie Hobbs, Heather Jennings, Demi Chandler, Doug Adams and their students, always try their best to help out others in need and especially those in need of some artistic inspiration.
The History and Art department melded missions this year when Coach John Garner and Mrs. Jennings collaborated to create tiles to decorate his classroom’s ceiling.
Garner wanted a tile for the flag of each state, because he teaches United States History. Jennings turned the task into an assignment for her Painting I and II classes, where each student chose a state and painted a mural relating to their state.
“It’s a pretty cool endeavor,” Garner commented of the scope of the task.
Other than the flag, students chose items or places related to their state to decorate their tile. Thirty-three tiles were done this semester, and the rest will be finished next school semester. The tiles will be on display in Coach Garner’s room upstairs in the main building.
Ashley Van Sant, NHS sophomore who worked on one of the tiles, said “I enjoyed painting the ceiling tile and learned interesting facts about my state, Florida, even though painting the Disney Castle was a pain.”
History is not the only department that has been enriched with the help of the art department.
The English department has also worked with the art department, creating the “Epitome” Art and Literary Magazine. The magazine included artwork and short literary stories or poems from NHS students. The magazines are provided throughout the local community for free.
Jennings elaborated, “We hope to share the good things our students are doing at Newnan High School.”
Even the NHS Athletic Department has felt the extension of the art department’s involvement. Two of the Visual arts students, Chloe Guin and Jake Quick, painted the lettering on the Baseball Field to add some fresh color to the sporty side of campus.
Atkinson Elementary School also collaborates with the NHS Art Department, particularly through their school dance earlier this year. Two art students painted a starry night backdrop for the dance, and several students who are part of the Art Club volunteered their time on the weekend to help decorate and set up the dance.
Kiley Anderson, NHS senior and one of the students who helped create the backdrop, said “I’ve never worked on something that big, so it was a new experience. I was happy to be able to help with a school function.”
The act was not just an act of kindness from one school to another, but from a teacher to her future students.
“We always try to help out the surrounding elementary schools with their art support whenever they need it. Atkinson is one of our feeder schools, so the children who are there now will eventually become our own. We alway try to support our up-and-rising young Newnan Cougars,” Mrs. Jennings said.
Beyond school, the NHS art department works hard to create a connection between students and the community.
The Art Club painted the signs for New Leaf Community Garden in downtown Newnan and has participated in Newnan’s Art Walks, where people can display their art. The art teachers also donate twelve student’s art pieces to be displayed in the Cargill Gallery every year.
This year, the visual arts and drawing classes created projects for the City’s Week Poster Contest, a contest to choose a poster about Newnan to display in the Mayor’s office.
The pottery classes take part in The Empty Bowls Project, an international project to fight hunger that is celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary this year. Students make bowls in pottery class and donate them to use in the project’s fundraising auction event.
During the event, bowls are auctioned out, and chili is served to be eaten in the bowls people purchased. The proceeds from the auctions go to safety houses.
Another way that the Newnan High art students have contributed to their community this school year is participating in selling discount cards. NHS Art Department partnered with different downtown businesses to create discount cards that they could sell as a fundraiser and to help local businesses.
Each card has various coupons or deals from various stores downtown, and the students sell them to family or friends. The money goes to the Art Department, and the businesses involved receive more foot traffic from the people who buy the cards.
By reaching out to other departments within the school, other schools, the community and beyond, the effects of the NHS Art Department can be seen and experienced by a multitude of people and groups.