French and English students create opportunities with art

“Eyes of the Innocent” is a six-week program with an artist in the school. Eddie Buendia, a muralist, worked with Millside School in Coquitlam for three years, and has been doing this program successfully for ten years.

I started this project to bring money and parents into the school. I wanted to build a bridge between the French and English programs. 1 wanted the children to learn about their community, to feel good about themselves, and to realize that they can make art that is good enough to sell.

This was the first job experience for many of them, and it gave them an opportunity to learn about drawing, painting, marketing, and leadership.

The class, 27 Grade 4 students from the regular English program and Programme Cadre, was held two afternoons a week. It was a great bridging activity for the two groups. The students painted the local community of Maillardville, in Coquitlam, and they did a community study. I receive an Ed May Social Responsibility-Fund grant and money from the Aboriginal department of the Coquitlam School District, to sponsor some aboriginal students. The students learned drawing and painting techniques from Buendia. They painted with acrylic paint on handmade watercolour paper. The students were given the opportunity to make their own wooden frames in a bands-on experience. They hosted their own art receptions at the school and at the Place des Arts (The local gallery).

Parents, school staff, schoolboard staff, media, the Coquitlam mayor, and some council members attended the receptions. Students dressed up, and they were available to talk about their art and market it. The students keep 25 percents of the money and 75% percents goes back to the program to keep it running.

The 1999 art show runs until June 4th

Susan Ruzic is a teacher at Millside Elementary School in Coquitlam.