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Saturday, Dec 15, 2018
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Project will gallop from Sulphur Springs to Australia

SULPHUR SPRINGS - SULPHUR SPRINGS Pretending to be horses, 7-year-olds Makhia Steward and Jaisha Gant followed where their teacher Sherri Lundquist led – into a spirited head shake and whinnie. The word describing the sound a horse makes was on a board behind Lundquist along with other horsey words: herd, prance, mane, hooves, mare and foal. "Are you ready to go on an adventure?" Lundquist asked Steward, Gant and three more classmates gathered at a table filled with rows of crayons. She was ready to read "Wild Ponies" by Jim Arnosky as the children drew horses in their sketch books. She showed them a map of southeastern United States with a destination of Assateague Island where the story takes place. As the listed words came up, Lundquist tossed out questions and young hands waggled in the air.
"How many horses are in a herd?" "All of them," said Steward. A second table in the classroom at All Nations Outreach Center was blanketed in old newspapers; paint brushes poked out of plastic cups of paint. Horses drawn and story finished, classmates moved to that table to paint swirly flowers. And one by one at another small work table they added flourishes to the mane of a horse that nearly filled one panel of a multi-media collage made from specialty papers, glue, food coloring and cut-out art. During six classes held over two weeks, Lundquist guided about 30 Sulphur Springs' students in the creation of a multi-panel collage that will find its way next year to a gallery in New South Wales, Australia. Along the way she engaged their imaginations and expanded their vocabulary. The Sulphur Springs' project – "Horses, Horses, Horses" – was funded with a state grant awarded to the Children's Board KidzCreate Gallery of Children's Art through Florida's Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture. The Children's Board partnered with Parents and Children Advance Together, or PCAT. The after-school program began nine years ago in the cafeteria of the Sulphur Springs Elementary School. PCAT recently settled into classrooms at All Nations Outreach Center at 8405 N. 11th St., where it continues to provide tutoring to Sulphur Springs' children. The program's director, Christene Worley, recently created a nonprofit to support the program, PCAT Ministries, Inc. Lundquist said nine other artists have worked with students from other counties on similar projects. Before reaching Australia's shores, the art work will be on display, probably by spring, at the KidzCreate Gallery of Children's Art as well as libraries in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Polk, Pasco and Manatee counties. The finished collage from Sulphur Springs will be shipped to textile artist Kathie Greenwold in upstate New York. She will add creative touches to the children's art, create her own panel and return it to Sulphur Springs where students will add their own artistry to her work. "That way we make a connection to her directly," Lundquist said. It is natural to make connections between language and visual art which quickly grabs childrens' attention, she said. "It's an easy place to start because you've got them with the art. You start bringing in literacy in doses." During one class, students followed Lundquist around the room, galloping, trotting and cantering. "It makes it as concrete as possible for them," she said. "We move like horses. They get excited and they remember." What they remember are words and what they mean; hooves are a horse's feet, a gallop is the fastest speed a horse runs, a canter is a high-stepping easy walk. Ka'Shion Anderson, 7, dabbed glue onto flower cut outs and pasted them in his sketch book. "When I grow up, I want to be a good reader," he said. And, Lundquist expanded what it means to read. Students looked at their shoes to see the brand name – Nike. They read cereal boxes and road signs and greetings on the classroom blackboards. "They realize there are words all over the place," Lundquist said. "They get outside the box. There are so many opportunities to read." [email protected] (813) 259-7652
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