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Siesta Key Thursday, May 14, 2020 1 year ago

Out-of-Door students get creative for annual arts tradition

Out of Door Academy students participate in the Getty art challenge and virtual lessons for Arts Day.
by: Brynn Mechem Staff Writer

In a typical elementary school art class, students might make a crepe paper mosaic or a papier-mache sculpture.

However, when the class is at home, it can be difficult to make the same project when not everyone has the same materials.

That is the dilemma Out-of-Door Academy art teacher Amanda Gabrici and music teacher Linda Vasilaki faced when planning the school’s annual Arts Day for a virtual audience.

Fifth grader Jackson Bitsoff performs during the Virtual Spring Recital. Photo courtesy

Arts Day is a school tradition where students perform concerts, participate in crafts and learn from guest artists.

This year, however, it was difficult for the teachers to plan how students could interact and which activities could be offered.

“It was challenging trying to think of different materials the kids might have at home,” Gabrici said. “I think we came up with a big variety for the students to play with and try out.”

Throughout the day, the teachers and guest artists held live Zoom sessions in which students could participate.

 Students were sent a schedule of events and a list of materials needed for each session, so they could plan which ones to attend.

The teachers also offered at-home instructions for families that couldn’t make the live sessions.

Gabrici taught students such things as origami and how to draw cartoon dinosaurs, and Vasilaki listened to students perform solos for their classmates and challenged them to set up a performance space in their homes.

Guest artists also demonstrated techniques including clay wheel throwing and gave critiques to the students as they performed.

“The collaboration was great because normally we have to limit our guest artists to people who live nearby, but because of Zoom, they could live anywhere on the planet and Zoom in and give a special master class,” Vasilaki said.

Third grader Nate Loretan recreates “A Man in a Red Turban” by Jan Van Eyck. Photo courtesy

Another added bonus of the day, Gabrici said, was seeing students of all age groups interact on the different calls.

“I had sessions where it was pre-K through fifth grade students,” she said. “There would be 40 of them, and we were all just making art together, and it was really amazing.”

Vasilaki said it was encouraging to keep a 20-year tradition going at the school.

“It was such a wonderful way to bring us back together for something that is such a tradition that we were worried about losing,” Vasilaki said. “All these schools are having to rethink graduation and prom and all these special moments. For us, this is one of our special moments of the year.”

Aside from the day’s activities, students also participated in the Getty art challenge. 

The challenge, which is trending on social media, asks people to re-create a famous work of art with items they have in their home.

Third grader Eve Arsenault recreates "Girl With a Pearl Earring” by Johannes Vermeer. Photo courtesy

Students re-created such works as “Girl With a Pearl Earring” and “Portrait of the Artist’s Son Jorge Manuel Theotokopoulos” by using their parents’ clothes and household items like toilet paper.

“It was beyond fun to see them get creative from home,” Gabrici said. “It was really hilarious what some of them came up with.”

In all, Gabrici estimates about 75% of the school’s students participated.

“It was so inspiring,” Gabrici said. “We’ve really missed the students, and it was exciting to see that they wanted to be there. They wanted to have a day of creating and making art and music together. It was really beautiful.”

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