The Scarlet & Black

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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
May 6, 2024
Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

Students ignite creativity in community


Last Saturday, students had the opportunity to engage with the greater Grinnell community through art and education by participating in the Ignite Program.

The program, formed last fall, allows Grinnellians to create and teach classes to students in preschool through eighth grade on a specific theme. Last weekend’s program focused on art and Faulconer Gallery.

“Each Ignite day has a theme. In November it was STEM and this past day it was Ignite at Faulconer Gallery,” said Ignite Director Ashley Schaefer. “The courses in this case had to be inspired by something in Faulconer Gallery, a piece in Faulconer Gallery.” 

The gallery’s unique combination of photography and paintings provided students with ample teaching material.

“Each of our teams of teachers picked a different piece in the gallery that spoke to them and then had designed a class around that,” said Ignite intern Mollie Jo Blahunka ’17.

Each teaching team created a distinct course to suit their artistic interests, while still allowing students from the community to express themselves through their unique interpretations. Classes were designed to suit each age group.

Meg Schmitt ’15 taught a combination of preschool and kindergarten students in her class “Faces, Feelings and Fun.”

“It was essentially about going into the gallery and showing the kids portraits of different feeling and getting them to think about how facial expressions convey feelings,” she said.

Aside from giving students the opportunity to express themselves through art, the program also aims to acquaint students with the campus and expose them to a collegiate atmosphere.

“Part of it is encouraging students to experience being at college,” Schaefer said.

“One little boy kept telling his friends that he went to college this weekend, which was really sweet,” Blahunka added. “So it’s just really important to us that we get them in the college environment just to get comfortable with that atmosphere.”

Oscar Venegas ’16, another student teacher, felt that Ignite is an important program for young students.

“It’s an amazing thing that the College is doing for the town,” he said.

Still, the weekend was not only beneficial for students in the community. It also provided an opportunity for Grinnell students to learn and grow.

“One of the best experiences I think has been seeing how much the teachers grow and develop through this program,” Schaefer said.

The next Ignite program will be hosted in April, with a theme of cultural diversity. “I think the topic is perfect for Grinnell.  The topic is celebrating culture, language and difference,” Schaefer said.  “In this community, I don’t know that [students] have had the opportunity to learn about other cultures.” 

Although the day was exhausting, everyone who participated agreed that it was a success. “It was definitely a stressful weekend, but that just made it all worth it because the kids were really excited to show their parents and that was really sweet,” Blahunka said.


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