Students in the Portsmouth City School District broke ground on their new Sculpture Garden, Sept. 21.
Conceptualized by Art Teacher, April Deacon, The Human Rights Garden will be a permanent outdoor sculpture and plant garden based upon the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The first phase of the project included an archaeological site survey, lead by the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park’s Education Technician, Susan Knisley.
“Since the beginning of the year we’ve been studying the Hopewell culture and the Mound Builders that came through Ohio. They’ve been learning that the earthworks stretched through Scioto County and across the Ohio River down into Kentucky,” explained Social Studies teacher, Dave Hopkins. “This ties in perfectly to what they’ve learned and Mrs. Deacon has done a wonderful job involving so many parts of the student body with the project.”
All of the 8th grade Social students, along with the multi-disability and gifted program students assisted in the survey.
“A site survey primarily involves the students walking the surface of the ground,” Knisley explained.
Each classroom was assigned a plot of the space to work in. The first step was creating a grid for the students to survey. After, the students slowly walked the plot, marking their findings with flags. The students then bagged the findings and catalogued them for later examination.
The students will also be taking a field trip to the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park where they will have their findings examined. The park curator will work with the students to help them learn the difference between what is considered an artifact and what is not.
“Since we’re in Portsmouth, which is another Hopewell center, it’s very likely that we’ll find something. This is a very rich prehistoric area,” explained Knisley. “It’s very similar to the Chillicothe area, you have the Scioto River flowing into the Ohio River, in any area like that, we see a pattern of prehistoric usage. Even further back than the Hopewell era, so there could be anything here at this point. We are considering everything an artifact.”
The students will also be taking a field trip to the Southern Ohio Museum to view the Art of the Ancients exhibit. There, they will further explore objects once used by the Adena and Hopewell people who prospered in the region years ago.
Located on the Applegate Green, the Sculpture Garden focuses on the theme of Human Rights. Students will examine the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
In the future phases of the project the seventh grade gifted students and high school Art I students will work with visiting artist Kevin Lyles to create paper castings based upon the rights they’ve studied.
The high school Three-Dimensional Art students will collaborate with Lyles to design three large-scale bronze, aluminum and stone sculptures also based upon the theme of Human Rights. The students will also be hosted at Rio Grande to observe their work come to life in bronze through the process of lost-wax casting.
The Three-Dimensional Art students will also work alongside another visiting Welsh artist, Bryan Thomas. Thomas will help the students create paving stones for the garden.
The Building and Maintenance students will also be working to design and build benches for the space.
Students will also be working with educators and designers from the Franklin Park Conservatory. The fifth grade science students will work with these educators to learn about plants and ecosystems. During this phase, the Three-Dimensional Art students will bring the garden to life by selecting plants with the help of Franklin Park Horticulture Designer, Garet Martin.
The project is slotted to be completed by the end of the school year, in May of 2017. The garden produced will be just the first part of a multi-phase learning series that will continue to grow throughout the years and impact elementary, junior high and high school learners. In the coming years, the school hopes to add an outdoor physical fitness area, a vegetable garden, gazebos and an outdoor exhibition space for art displays.
Reach Ciara Conley at 740-981-6977, Facebook “Ciara Conley - Daily Times,” and Twitter @PDT_Ciara