Retired shop teacher Johnny Walker talks about how he and some students used a plasma cutter to turn the children's vision into art that will be welded to a bridge in Spring Creek as part of the Peace-Art Club. Students involved in the project include Hope Nelson, from right, Stephanie Moos, Isiah Maynard, David Kissane and art teacher Chula Beauregard.

Photo by John F. Russell

Retired shop teacher Johnny Walker talks about how he and some students used a plasma cutter to turn the children's vision into art that will be welded to a bridge in Spring Creek as part of the Peace-Art Club. Students involved in the project include Hope Nelson, from right, Stephanie Moos, Isiah Maynard, David Kissane and art teacher Chula Beauregard.

Middle school students create art for Spring Creek bridge

Middle school students create art for Spring Creek bridge

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— The bridge spanning Spring Creek soon will be decorated with coyotes baying at the moon, columbines in bloom and moon and stars cut from sheet metal. The decorative span, created by the Peace-Art Club at Steamboat Springs Middle School, will replace the cables currently serving as guardrails on the creek's old wooden bridge.

"That bridge that's there now, it's an old wooden bridge, and it's at a very high level of disrepair," Routt County Road and Bridge Director Paul Draper said. When considering the possible ways of rebuilding the bridge, Draper said he saw a chance to use art and involve students at the same time.

"Down there at the bridge is a very special place. As you guys get older, this will be something that will be there, and you can come back and see something you have contributed to the Steamboat community," he told the club Monday.

Chula Beauregard, the club sponsor and school's art teacher, teamed with her parents, Johnny and Gigi Walker, to help the students create the project.

About 10 students in the club first visited the site earlier in the year to gather their impressions and create appropriate designs for the bridge. Beauregard said the club's intent is to promote peace in many forms, including inner peace.

Sixth-grader Hope Nelson said the remote area was a good example of a place to find tranquility.

"It was very beautiful, and it is what the Peace-Art Club is all about because it's peaceful, calm and quiet. I think it's cool people can go up there and experience that feeling," she said.

After students recorded their initial impressions, they drew designs that later were transferred onto the 2-foot-wide, 12-foot-long pieces of steel by drawing with pieces of soapstone.

After the initial sketches were in place, Johnny Walker and the students used a plasma cutter to cut out their designs.

Seventh-grader David Kelley said the cutting was a fun part of the project and was easier than he expected.

"It doesn't take a lot of physical effort, but to do it well you have to be really careful," he said about making sure the plasma cutter does not veer outside the lines.

The two sides of the railings depict day and night, with images of animals and nature throughout.

The Peace-Art Club also was responsible for the large Pinwheels for Peace staged on the Routt County Courthouse lawn in 2006, but the bridge work is the first collaboration of its kind in Steamboat, Draper said.

The project will be finished during the summer and installed within a few months, complete with redwood boards to top the railings, Johnny Walker said. Nelson said she hopes to visit the bridge and show her family her handiwork soon.

"I just got a dog recently and I can't wait to go up there with my mom and my little brother and show them: 'Yeah, I helped with that.'"

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