BROOKSVILLE — When St. Anthony the Abbot Catholic Church wanted to celebrate its namesake's feast day with a dinner and dance, organizers needed decorations. They called on Hernando High School.
Art teacher Michael Nicholson, who oversees an after-school art club, saw an opportunity for his students to practice skills on an out-of-school project.
"Part of my curriculum is art students participating in the cultural community," Nicholson, 33, said. "And it's one of our Florida standards."
The club has a core membership of six or seven, but participation can go up to as high as 13. A lot depends on transportation, Nicholson said.
Church youth minister Susanne Thompson has a daughter at Hernando High, although she is not in the art program. But Thompson is aware of the school's generosity in the community. With the dinner and dance approaching and decorations needed, she said, "We decided to utilize the local kids."
Church business manager Karen Rey Mullane said the goal was to put on a "family dance." The second annual event was held Saturday. The art consisted of paper murals depicting the life of St. Anthony.
St. Anthony the Abott's pastor, the Rev. Craig R. Morley, said projects such as this helps students realize "life is not just in the school."
Art club member and sophomore Mackenzie Osmond, 16, is an advanced placement art student. She took a regular art class in ninth grade and decided to join the club when she moved into the higher-level class. She likes working with acrylics.
Faced with a piece of paper as big as she is and a small picture to reproduce, Mackenzie began with a rough sketch. "As you do more and more, detail is added," she said. "By the time we finish the painting it'll have all the details and facial expressions."
Mackenzie said the project gave her practice. "The more we do something, the better we get." This project was particularly helpful, she said, because it "helps us learn to enlarge a picture."
Kearstin Harmon, 17, appreciated that, too. The senior AP art student and art club member likes to sculpt and said this kind of project helps her work on a weakness: getting proportions correct.
Kearstin hopes to attend the Arts Institute in Tampa and major in media art and animation. She wants to create special effects for movies or new games and would particularly like to make clay figures for movies. "If I could get a job with DreamWorks," she said, "I would be really excited. I've been wanting to work with them since I was in eighth grade."
Although senior Lydia Lee, 17, is not in the art club, she helped at the church to gain volunteer hours and because, she said, "I like drawing." Her specialty is pencil sketching, the first step in these reproductions.
Decorations for the dinner and dance, which also included scrolls created by Trevor Barlow's Nature Coast Technical High School commercial arts students, were only one of Nicholson's students' extracurricular projects.
Hernando High principal Ken Pritz asked the club to redesign the logo on a large board in the school gymnasium.
"It was a leopard standing on its hind legs, and we completely redesigned the whole thing," Nicholson said. The new logo, he said, can be seen on the school website. The group also helped at the Spring Hill fall art show in Weeki Wachee.