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Make an angel, give an angel

Highlands Elementary takes part in first community-outreach arts project to help teach children comp

Posted: April 22, 2009 9:53 p.m.
Updated: April 23, 2009 4:30 a.m.

Highlands Elementary School fifth-grader MacKenzie Taylor wraps her clay angels to give to her uncle and grandmother as she finishes her work on the Angels Project on Wednesday. The students made more than 500 clay angels to give to loved ones.

About 250 students at Highlands Elementary School are getting ready to sprinkle joy and hope in the Santa Clarita Valley through the Angels Project, the school’s first community-outreach art project.

For about eight weeks, the fifth- and sixth-graders have been making small pink angels. In a series of steps, they’ve formed them, fired them and glazed them.

The students gathered in their classroom Wednesday to put the finishing touches on the project by wrapping them and writing cards for the people to whom they wanted to give the angels.

The student-art project is a scaled-down version of what artist Jill D’Agnenica created through her “Angels Project” in Los Angeles in 1993, Highlands art specialist Kate Pitner said.

In line with the one-year anniversary of civil unrest in Los Angeles following an innocent verdict in the trial of four police officers accused of beating motorist Rodney King, Los Angeles-based artist D’Agnenica spent a year and a half creating and distributing an assortment of  hot-pink plaster Angels across Los Angeles.

The artist saw the project as a way to bring joy and hope to the damaged city, Pitner said. Over a period of nearly two-years, D’Agnenica and her volunteers set out into the city to distribute the angels. At the end of the installation project, 4,687 angels were distributed.

It was the first time Highlands Elementary School students participated in the event, although Pitner hopes to make her own Angels Project an annual event aimed at helping the kids learn about compassion and helping others, Pitner said.

The students initially watched a video about D’Agnenica’s project before each of the 250 fifth- and sixth-graders made two angels,
totaling about 500 miniature hand-made pink angels.

Fifth-grader Drake Hougo was thinking about giving one of his angels to either a local fire department, the sheriff’s station or City Hall.

“They do a good thing for our community,” 10-year-old Drake said.

Fifth-grader Tatiana Garn wanted to give her angels to her family and a friend.

“We just had a baby and I want there to be peace in our house with the new baby,” Tatiana said.

She hopes to give her friend her handmade creation, too.

“If you give someone something you’ve made, it makes them happy,” Tatiana said.

Fifth-grade teacher Sioux Coghlan appreciates Pitner’s ability to get students invested into art projects that other teachers might shy away from.

“She’s not afraid to dive in,” Sioux said.

Pitner teaches students about different types of mediums and different styles of art from just about every time period, Coghlan said.

“It’s not just a craft. She puts perspective into it,” Sioux said.



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