Students get unique art opportunity


Last updated 11/20/2007 at Noon

For Ivy High School students Sarah Viau, Trish Pomerantz and Jerry Gonzales, a departure from the rigorous core curriculum they follow at the continuation school in order to make up credits for graduation is welcome. They didn’t expect to enjoy getting their hands dirty, though.

For these students and 16 others, every Tuesday and Thursday through December 18, they will travel to the Art Campus of Fallbrook for free classes in ceramics and the resulting wet hands sticky with clay. Each class consists of 10 students and meets for an hour and a half. It’s like a field trip, but twice a week, one student said. Principal Lisa Broomfield said another session is planned for the spring.

Although no budding artists have been recognized thus far, the students are experiencing an opportunity that doesn’t happen every day, Broomfield says. Pursing an interest purely for pleasure, where there’s no right or wrong way of doing it, is a welcome relief for these students who are working hard to catch up academically with their peers.

Ceramic art, also referred to as pottery, applies to articles shaped in clay then fired in a kiln. Each time students attend class, they create a piece of pottery.

“We’ve made two pinch pots and a plate,” says Viau, a senior who plans to attend Merritt College to get a certificate in massage therapy. It’s her first time working with clay. She hasn’t missed a class and says she’d like to continue.

“I actually like the class and would like to [work with clay] as a pastime,” Pomerantz says. She came to the class with experience, first learning about ceramics in junior high school when she lived in Las Vegas. Pomerantz will move on to a pre-med college curriculum in Seattle or at Palomar College.

“It’s a great class; I actually enjoy it,” says Gonzales with surprise. He first thought the class would be just a way to pass time and recalls working with clay with his mom, as a hobby, when he was younger. Gonzales will attend UC Irvine and wishes to become qualified as a mechanic.

Ivy High focuses on credit recovery for students seeking graduation, with the greatest number enrolled in the 11th and 12th grades. While students at Fallbrook High School study core curriculum and have a wide array of electives to choose from for credit, students at Ivy attend classes in English, math, social science and science only. That’s why the ceramics classes are so welcome.

“I wish the classes were for credit,” Broomfield says, then adds that she hopes someone will think of a way to involve the class for credit.

The Ivy students, taught by artist Jo Sebern, first study the fundamental techniques of working with clay before moving on to learn how to glaze and fire their pieces. Sebern also teaches the science behind the metamorphosis of raw clay to the finished work. Her teaching experience is founded in volunteerism, where she helped village potters in Liberia establish a revenue program by resurrecting their tribal pottery skills.

The cost of the classes is paid for by a grant from the Staples Foundation for Learning, established in 2002 to “teach, train and inspire people from all walks of life by providing educational and growth opportunities.” The foundation is a national charity that partners with organizations like the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, among others. The only cost to the school district is for bussing.

“We are excited about the opportunity for our kids to be able to enjoy an extra curricular activity such as this,” Broomfield says.


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