The Story of the Bay

Fourth-grade student artists tell it four ways

Students in Mrs. Paolitto’s class embroider a banner depicting creatures of the Chesapeake Bay for an art installation at the Captain Avery Museum. Pictured clockwise from top left: Skye Lindeman (big green bow), Kyle Peterson, Isabel Grigg, Nancy Rohan, Avalin Herzer, Matthew Marsters and Leilani Farmer.
       Kathy Wolfstone-Smith took an artistic gamble last summer. 
      Wolfstone-Smith, who teaches arts and humanities at Shady Side Elementary, asked the Captain Avery Museum to display her students’ work.
        “Kudos to them for being so supportive,” she says. “At the time we set this up, I had no way of knowing how it was going to turn out.”
        That installation, which opens with a reception Jan. 18, tells the story of the Chesapeake in four media, including a music video. All were created by Shady Side fourth graders.
       Shady Side Elementary students spend an hour each week with ­Wolfstone-Smith and teacher Jennifer Kochanski exploring arts and humanities, visual arts, movement, theatre, poetry and more as part of the Triple E curriculum. Triple E stands for Enhancing Elementary Excellence. The program aims to engage students in project-based learning with thematic hands-on exploration.
       “I wanted the students to answer this question: How can we as artists, musicians and storytellers tell a story about Chesapeake Bay? And how can the public access our art?” Wolfstone-Smith says. “They answered by pursuing field work and research, visiting the Annapolis Maritime Museum on a class trip and researching maritime history and the animals in our region.”
      Mrs. Paolitto’s fourth graders embroidered textiles with representations of animals from the Bay. Mrs. Parks’ class sculpted three-dimensional clay models of Bay creatures, now mounted on pieces of driftwood. Mrs. Bessom’s class designed and built working models of boats used by regional watermen. A group of students also recorded a music video, Out on the Chesapeake, with singer-composer Deanna Dove, for release on YouTube. 
      “I had a vision, and I knew what we could teach in terms of skill, but you can’t guarantee the motivation will be there,” Wolfstone-Smith says. “These kids were so into it. They understand that the Bay is such a big part of where we live and how we are impacted. The students embraced the concepts wholeheartedly and created something that so wonderfully captures the idea.”
      Opening reception Thurs., Jan. 18, 5pm at Captain Avery Museum, Shady Side. Installation continues thru the winter lecture series, which ends Feb. 28.