“SUPER STEAM to the Rescue!” Part THREE…

“SUPER STEAM to the Rescue!” was a semester long collaborative project.

North Elementary School Assistant Principal Anne Lupo, North Elementary Art Teacher Sonda Cheesebrough, 4th Grade Teachers Leona Thompson, Kevin Kieffer, Sara Pennington, WVU Sculpture Professor Dylan Collins, and I coordinated the project. It was funded by a grant from the West Virginia Division of Culture and History.

This project went from February-May 2016, and I made multiple visits each month to see how the projects were progressing. There were three main aspects to this project:

1. Students did research into creating a friendly garden environment for regional birds, and made a new garden that relates to the already existing garden curriculum at North Elementary.

2. Students kept a sketchbook for their research, and made mini-comics based on the information they learned.

3. Some students were asked to draw regional birds onto metal sheets that were used to create a large bird house structure.


Later in the month of May, our attention focused on getting everything finalized and ready for display. After three weeks of making comics, I made seven copies for each student. Once copies were made, we had to begin the monumental task of folding over 600 comics into mini-books.


What is the best way to get this done? Have a comics folding dinner party! Very lucky to have supportive friends willing to fold.


I also had to install two display cases near the new gardens. These display cases will showcase student comics and sketchbooks and talk a little about the project.

IMG_1364Bridget, a WVU sculpture student, helping me dig the holes. Seen here with a pesky rock that got in our way.


Display cases in, concrete poured and protected from the elements.


Dylan putting the finishing touches on his apartment complex. This structure looks really great! Dylan and his students did such an amazing job on this! A great addition to the gardens.


The culmination of the entire project happened at the North Elementary Arts/Garden night. On Tuesday May 24, students and parents were invited to the school to see our project and many of the other amazing things happening at the school. It was packed with people!


The display cases being inspected by Assistant Principal Anne Lupo and the head of Arts and Education at the WV Division of Culture and History Jim Wolf, who made a special trip up from Charleston to see how the project came together.


We picked one comic from each class and some sketchbooks to showcase in the display cases.



Sonda also made awards for some of the best comics. There were a few categories like “Best Use of Research”, “Best Illustrations”, and “Best Characters” on top of overall winners. Students were given new sets of pens and markers we used to make our comics.



All of this related to the already existing garden curriculum at North Elementary. Not related to this project, I also helped install a new massive high tunnel which was installed recently.


There are also gardens sprinkled throughout the grounds at North. Students get really unique experiences and learning opportunities with these gardens. I am continually amazed at how teachers can relate the gardens to lessons in math, geography, history and all other topics covered at school.


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