If you saw mobs of fifth-graders out of class and patrolling the streets on Wednesday, have no fear. They were out learning.
In what is becoming a popular annual event, fifth-grade students from Aurora Heights and Woodrow Wilson elementary schools visited different sites around Newton to learn about various sculptures, statues, memorials, murals and landmarks.
This is done to help spur the children’s civic pride and allow them to gain a greater appreciation for the arts. One of the key components of this year’s tour was the prevention of vandalism.
“Over the years, kids have been able to make connection with local art,” AH fifth-grade teacher Jack Crandell said. “It allows them to see art in a different way. The docents have talked about the effects of vandalism and how it hurts art. When we get back, the kids, I hear them talk about it. It really seems to diminish the acts of vandalism, because they are more aware of the arts and the artists.”
Mary Bruhn served as one of the docents and played a crucial role in the anti-vandalism talk. She provided the students with an example by telling the history of the “Love at First Sight” sculpture by Neal Deaton, which was moved from Sersland Park to Skiff Medical Center.
“The sculpture was vandalized,” she said. “It was very valuable, and I guess Neal took it (back), and it took him about three months to repair it. They needed to find a new safe site for it, and they moved it to Skiff. It’s not outside anymore. It’s across from radiology.”
According to the most recent estimates by the district, there are 228 fifth-grade students at both AH and WW. Students at both schools seemed to take to the anti-vandalism message and expanded their artistic views as well.
“We learned about how the (sculpture) had been taken out because it had been damaged,” WW fifth-grader Anthony Moran said. “We (also) learned that copper can turn green when it’s not cleaned a lot.”
“There is a whole a bunch of different art that people can come and look at,” AH fifth-grader Sydni Followill said. “And a whole bunch of different artist made them, and they’re about different things. We’ve (also) learned about the people that made them.”
The tour showcased more than a dozen works of art and had stops in downtown, the Jasper County Historical Museum, Newton Senior High School, the arboretum and the library. Every docent gave unique information and some used personal stories to enhance the experience.
Marta Ford, dressed in fatigues at the Jasper County Veteran Memorial. Sue Pickett, who was in charge of the “Newton Print shop” mural on the side of the Daily News circulation building, brought along her husband Bud. Bud explained the printing process show in the mural in great detail.
While each stop was informative and had its own fun factor, the most popular stop seemed to be “Sir Rust-A-Lot,” the giant, metal-dragon sculpture located on the lawn of Newton Public Library.
“Every artist puts their name on their project that they do,” Jessie Johnson said. “And on the lizard, it was hard to find their name and it was on the foot.