Written by Jacob Leis, AmeriCorps Member serving on the Boo Grigsby Foundation Team at Celerity Crestworth Charter School

Art is a fundamental aspect of human history. It unites us, as every culture across the globe produces art in some shape or form. It’s also one of the best ways to get a large group of kids silently working on something for a substantial period of time, making it one of the greatest tools of the classroom. 

In Celerity Crestworth, AmeriCorps members run after school programming. The program contains an art curriculum, in which students are instructed to work together or individually to make different projects. The results are often genuinely beautiful, made even more so by the proud face of a student who’s put a lot of effort into something their proud of. 

The specifics of the art projects vary from week to week, but they’ve always got two qualities: interesting and cheap. For instance, last week the children successfully made faux stained glass windows out of cardboard, twine, and foil. This week they created an intricate tape portrait of characters from their favorite video game, minecraft. The variety of projects in the curriculum is what keeps the students so enthralled. 

The kids absolutely adore art. They act like they don’t at first, claiming it’s too juvenile and assuring me multiple times that they would refuse to participate. Of course, 7th graders are not known for their foresight, and quickly take to sketching up their doodles and planning out their final product. 

At the end of a long day, returning to the City Year room and looking through different classes’ projects has become one of my favorite parts of the job. After all the trials and tribulations of supervising middle schoolers for a few hours, kicking back and seeing just how talented and interesting these kids are, that’s a beautiful thing. And if there’s one thing the world needs more of, it’s beautiful things. 

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