Grant allows Hayden High School to buy cameras students can use in class |

Grant allows Hayden High School to buy cameras students can use in class

Jack Weinstein

— Hayden High School art teacher Susan Koehler wanted to challenge her students.

So she assigned her juniors and seniors with a sociopolitical project that required them to choose any issue — local or global — they are passionate about. The only requirement was that the students incorporate an original photo. Koehler asked her students to think critically and use their own experiences to convey the issue.

What her students created surprised her, Koehler said.

She described the projects as emotional, powerful and meaningful. They examined issues that included family turmoil, drugs, the environment, abortion, technology, faith and gun rights.

"It's opened all of our eyes to the issues in the world outside Hayden," said junior Delanie VeDepo, whose project focused on environmental issues. "In Hayden, it's hard to keep an open mind. Everything is the same. There's not much diversity."

Junior Lysa Valora, who explored patriotism and faith with her project that depicted several different drawings of the Statue of Liberty, said the assignment was intimidating at first. But what it taught her was worth the effort.

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"I learned a lot about my classmates and the community," she said. "I learned a lot more from everybody else's assignments than I learned from my own — what my classmates' opinions are, and other issues there that I didn't think about."

The projects and others will be on display at 5 p.m. Tuesday in the high school lobby for a student art show. Each art student will have two pieces on display. The art show will precede the school's annual academic awards ceremony, which starts at 6:30 p.m.

Koehler said the sociopolitical project was made possible through a $1,000 grant from the local Legacy Education Foundation.

The grant allowed her to buy three digital cameras in December for the students to use in class. One of the cameras, a digital SLR, stays in the classroom. Students are able to check out the other two, which are smaller, point-and-shoot cameras.

Koehler said the purpose of the grant was to help the students create original works of art.

She said the high school's art department doesn't have a lot of resources. In the past, Koehler said her students incorporated magazine images into their projects. Lately, she said, they've been able to use images from the Internet. Koehler said the art department never has owned cameras that students could use to produce and include original photos in their work.

"This has taken us to a new level that what we'd be able to afford with our budget," she said. "It's huge. I really appreciate it."

In addition to using the cameras for class projects, Koehler said, she is photographing every piece for students to create portfolios.

Senior Megan Swedberg said she'd like to have an art show of her own some day and would use her portfolio to do that.

She's already on her way.

Swedberg's self-portrait is on display at the Depot Art Center in Steamboat Springs as part of the Routt County Youth Art Show. It's one of about 35 pieces created by Hay­den High School art students in the show.

Koehler said she plans to assign more projects that require students to use cameras.

"I'm really excited for the kids that are going to be in art class from now on with those cameras," Swedberg said.

— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 871-4203 or e-mail

If you go

What: Hayden High School Art Show

When: 5 p.m. Tuesday, followed by the school’s annual academic awards at 6:30 p.m.

Where: Lobby of the high school