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Artists Mentor Bloomingdale Students

Students create backdrop, props for upcoming play.

l first graders got to spend some time with two international artists creating scenery and props to be used in their upcoming play,  "E-I-E-I-Oops" after receiving a $5,000 grant from the Arts Council of the Morris Area.

The school's Parent Teacher Association (PTA) was responsible for obtaining the grant for the school. Through the grant, called the Keefauver Residency Award, artists Carol Hendrickson and Marco Giammetti, who together call themselves Spiritree, worked with the students for one hour a day every day for two weeks. The students created the items to be used in the play with paper mache and recycled materials and sponge-painted large boards to be used as backdrops.

Giammetti and Hendrickson live in Italy but spend four months in America each year teaching students like the students at Martha B. Day.

The grant is called the Keefauver Residency Award and benefactor Bill Keefauver joined the students Thursday to say goodbye to Hendrickson and Giammetti who will go on to work with students in another school district. The students were also able to show off their work to Keefauver, who established the arts and education fund that provides the grants in memory of his wife in 2006. Joining Keefauver was Barbara Reuther, who helps coordinate the program through the school districts who receive grants through the Arts Council.

"This is some of the best first grade work I've ever seen," she told the students.

Martha B. Day School Principal Cheryl Mallen said that in order to receive the grant, the school had to demonstrate how it would integrate the program into its curriculum. With the school play coming up on June 13, Mallen said it was a good opportunity for the students to design the rural artwork needed for the production. Students also learned about the seasons as they designed backdrops that coincided with different periods of the year.

Mallen said this type of program is particularly beneficial for the students.

"That's what makes learning stick and that's what makes learning fun," she said.

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