Photo by John F. Russell
Cheyenne Goulette plays the drums at Strawberry Park Elementary School on Friday afternoon as part of the school's all day arts festival. The students had an opportunity to learn about the arts first hand through a number of different lectures and workshops.
Steamboat Springs Isabel Rillos never knew art could be such hard work until the Strawberry Park Elementary School first-grader lent a hand Friday to help build a snow sculpture.
"It's really an igloo," said Isabel, 7, as she packed snow into rectangular bricks.
As many of her classmates made snow angels or waged a snowball fight, Isabel laboriously assisted Strawberry Park parent Bill Gamber with the project.
"But you can now go to the North Pole and be a professional igloo maker," Gamber told her. "It's a hard job building an igloo. It's not for the light-hearted."
The project was one of many Isabel and her classmates participated in during the school's inaugural Art-a-palooza festival.
Arts and crafts, dancing and music filled the day, inspired by similar experiences Principal Brenda Barr had growing up in Huntsville, Ala.
"It's something the community did as a whole in my hometown, where the entire city came together for a day for kids," she said. "There were many different venues that kids could go to."
Barr added that the festival also was a good way for students to transition back into school after a lengthy Christmas break.
At lunchtime, students took a break from creating and kicked back to watch a video of professional modern dance, jazz and ballet dancers. They were also treated to a live African drum performance.
Barr said if Friday's event was successful - and she judged it was by the shrieks of laughter emanating from the hallways - the festival may return bigger and better next year.
"We are hoping to get orchestras involved and a lot more community involvement in the future," she said. "My hope is that the children experience all that the local art community can offer."
Throughout the day, many students - armed with digital cameras - documented the festivities for a PowerPoint presentation scheduled later in the day.
Being able to create a PowerPoint presentation while in elementary school, Barr stressed, is a artistic talent in itself.
In the field adjacent to Strawberry Park's playground, the igloo slowly began to rise from the ground.
As the project began to take form, Gamber said he hoped to have the 6-foot-tall structure completed by the end of the day.
Isabel and her classmates - dressed from head-to-toe in snow gear - did all they could to meet that goal. With shovels almost as long as their bodies, they shaped the snow into a form that was more about function than aesthetics.
"But how often do you get to take art outside?" Gamber said.
Like all good artists, the students worked with the best materials available.
"Where did you get all this powder to build with?" asked Gamber. "Where do you think we are, Steamboat Springs?"