Megan Woods' eighth-grade graphic arts class created a piece of art that reflected a period they never experienced, although it brought back memories for some of their teachers.
The West Hernando Middle School students painted a mural on a campus wall depicting a time of peace and unrest, love and war, lava lamps and peace signs, the '60s.
The wall they painted had been unadorned when geography teacher Kevin McManus, 59, put his sixth-graders to work making mosaic reproductions of works by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Paul Klee and Joan Miró i Ferrà.
These were attached to the inside of the wall. His group turned the sandy area into a minipark with gardens, benches and a fountain.
The outside wall was turned over to the graphic arts class. McManus suggested to Woods, 32, that her class do something to illustrate the 1960s, and she started them on the research.
"We all had to do research," Woods said, including herself, since she is post-'60s.
The students researched in teams, and each team was responsible for a certain part of the wall. This class has 10 students who have been with Woods since August. Most of her classes are a term, but these eighth-graders are in an extended class to prepare them for more advanced graphic arts in high school.
The students, Connor McCabe, Kaleigh Gibbs, Kayla Harrison, Jacob Palo, Eddie Lomio, Alex Leger, Jerzy Piwowar, Sean O'Connor, Hunter Trudell and Katie Wheaton, watched film clips and listened to period music.
They sketched until they had final plans, which were projected onto the wall and traced. They used a little spray paint, but mostly they painted with acrylics, producing a pink Volkswagen Beetle with green flowers, peace signs, a happy face, a Woodstock symbol, yin yang symbols, a lava lamp and a Volkswagen bus.
They painted the words of the times: "peace," "hope," "love," "unification," "harmony" and "flower power." The painting took about three weeks, with students working when they could. Students Kaleigh, Kayla, Eddie and Alex worked after school.
Woods said she was teaching them the elements and principles of design, proportions and the art of graffiti.
Some, she explained is vandalism. Sometimes, like this project, it is appropriate. Her students also learned about the "symbolism and the whole idea behind the hippie peace movement," she said.
Woods' and McManus' projects were funded by the West Hernando Middle School Advisory Council and a Hernando County Education Foundation minigrant. They received donations from Sherwood Forest Nursery and Pro Line Tile.
Paulette Lash Ritchie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.