Decorating for funds

Julia Queller

To raise money for the WHS fine arts department, students in art classes are currently decorating birdhouses for a January auction.

The PTSO will sell the birdhouses during a silent auction this spring at the Westfield Rotary Club’s Annual Breakfast, according to PTSO Co-Vice President Ingrid McKinley.

The PTSO purchased  more than 30 unfinished birdhouses from Michaels craft store and requested that WHS art teachers encourage “students who are committed to creating high quality piece[s] of work” to decorate them, according to Art Teacher Ms. Annora Happe-Conway.

Sophomore Alex Palatucci said, “[The fundraiser] will show that it’s worth investing in the program because there are people who work really hard.”

Originally, the fundraiser aimed to feature students’ original artwork; however, these personal projects are crucial to students’ portfolios, according to McKinley.

Supervisor of Fine Arts Dr. Linda King suggested that students decorate birdhouses instead, an idea embraced by the fundraiser’s organizers, McKinley and PTSO Co-Vice President Debbie Montick.
Said Happe-Conway, “Students can take pictures of their finished houses for portfolios and understand that this is charity work.”

McKinley initially proposed an art auction to the PTSO Board after seeing Art Teacher Mr. Roy Chambers auction off several pieces to benefit the fine arts department at the Westfield Public School District’s Fine Arts Show last May. The department was responsive to “the idea of creating one-of-a-kind pieces,” said McKinley.

Students can embellish the birdhouses in any way they choose, according to Art Teacher Ms. Leah Jarvis. Additionally, students selected from “traditional houses to castles to log cabins,” said Jarvis.
Junior Alison Simon is creating a Dr. Seuss-themed house with juniors Emma Tabachnick and Asher Horowitz.

Said Simon, “The teachers [basically said], ‘here’s a birdhouse; go fly with it.’”

According to Chambers, “All the art teachers are more [like] consultants” in the project.
To ensure that students were “serious about completing a well-crafted piece and [would] meet the [Jan. 17] deadline,” only the students who signed a commitment form were granted a birdhouse, according to Happe-Conway.

In addition to auctioning off the finished birdhouses at the Annual Breakfast, McKinley hopes to display them in storefronts downtown in February.