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Art preservation project earns students competitive spot


March 22, 2013
<b>The Art Rescue Team spent hours cataloging 250 ceiling tiles painted by students in an effort to preserve the pieces. From left to right, Julia Baker, Caroline Methe, Emma Paul and Emily Lachtara.</b><br>Reminder Publications photo by Carley Dangona

The Art Rescue Team spent hours cataloging 250 ceiling tiles painted by students in an effort to preserve the pieces. From left to right, Julia Baker, Caroline Methe, Emma Paul and Emily Lachtara.
Reminder Publications photo by Carley Dangona

By Carley Dangona

carley@thereminder.com

SOUTHWICK — The efforts of the Art Rescue Team at Powder Mill Middle School to preserve 14 years worth of student art, won the state competition for the Future Problem Solving Program International Inc. (FPSPI) and will compete at the international conference from June 6 to 9 in Indiana.

The Art Rescue Team, made up of eighth graders, is in the process of cataloguing 250 artistically painted ceiling tiles as its chosen community problem-solving project. The tiles were removed from the school's facade in preparation for renovations to the school. The tile project began in 1998.

Once completed, contact information will be posted online for students who created the tiles so that they can obtain their tiles. Interested students can make a voluntary donation of $8 — the cost of a new tile — to support school activities. Tiles with children's themes will be offered to Shriners Hospitals for Children and Baystate Children's Hospital in Springfield. The remaining tiles will be displayed on a gallery walk for local businesses and residents to bid on. The team would like to create a hanging digital collage for the library as well, according to advisor Sue Pac.

Student Emma Paul described the cataloguing efforts where each piece is labeled with a letter and a number and photographed. Then, the information is entered into an Excel spreadsheet. The team is also compiling a scrapbook of the process from its inception.

Caroline Methe, student, remembered when she first saw the tiles during her fourth grade visit to Powder Mill. "I was inspired by them and excited to create one. I painted a ceiling tile last year and worked pretty hard on it. Now that the tiles are down, the life is gone from the school," she said.

Student Emily Lachtara described the school as "boring" without the tiles on display. She explained that some students are mad that the tiles were taken down because they just decorated their own.

Lachtara noted that two years ago, the students attend the FPSPI conference after winning the state competition for their Students Against Graffiti project where they painted a tunnel for the Southwick Rail Trail.

Methe explained that during the competition, students spend an entire day at their display table, educating attendees about their project. She said that the judges also participate, interviewing the students, but that their identities are unknown at the time of judging.

She added that there are many opportunities to network with other students and to share each other's cultures. She described an "artifact" sharing event where students bring items from their culture to bestow upon each other.

Lachtara said the conference also includes time for sight-seeing, a talent show and a dance.

Julia Baker has never attended the conference before. "I never expected to be on the team. It's a lot of work, but it's fun."

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