John F. Kennedy Elementary School students buzzed excitedly among their artwork, a gymnasium of Mona Lisa recreations, edible board games made, ceramic dishes and towns of cyclopsed sculptures on Monday at the annual art show.
“The students are all very proud of themselves to have their work on display,” art teacher Mary Beth Kopacz said. “A display like this allows other people to value them as young artists.”
This is the fourth year Kopacz has organized a show to honor the students’ artwork. Her arranged gallery held more than 1,000 works of art, an edible display that the students created at home, a Crayola Test Center and areas like a post-it mural for the students to create art.
“This is the most fantastic event we host here at JFK,” Denise Desimon, a member of the school's Parent Teacher Organization. “You can really see these kids’ art skills develop each year.”
Dante DeNicola, father of Christina DeNicola, who helped her make a Candyland-inspired edible creation, said he was impressed with the art program.
“This is very valuable for the kids,” DeNicola said. “[Kopacz] is the best art teacher I’ve ever seen. The work she’s introduced, even with the budget cuts, is incredible. It’s so important that these kids express themselves with art.”
The students could scribble on the windows inside of their art class Crayola Test Center, was inside of the art classroom. The school won a $25,000 contest this year, the Make-A-Clean Difference art room makeover contest sponsored by Bounty.
Kopacz teaches more than 460 students, kindergarten through fifth grade. Some of the topics they learned about this year are ceramics, painting, sculpture computer art, painting and drawing. Winning the contest has allowed the class to experiment with materials outside of their $900 budget, like clay. They have new computers with art programs, furniture and a new kiln to create ceramic pieces.
“The new classroom has made the students more excited about art,” Kopacz said. “Art is alive here at this school."
The students have a digital portfolio, called Artsonia, which allows them to keep track of all of their projects.
Parents commented on how they never had an art program as comprehensive as JFK’s.
“When I was a kid, we didn’t have any of this stuff, and [Kopacz] really inspires them” George Hulme said, whose daughter, Samantha, had artwork on display. “I’m grateful they have teachers that good in this district.”
Rose Marie Colella, who was on a committee that picked Kopacz as the new art teacher a few years ago, said that the committee was confident she would be an asset to the school.
“We knew in the first five minutes of meeting [Kopacz] that she would be perfect,” Colella said.
Many students said they were excited to show their parents their artwork.
“I like art because you can make it whatever you want,”third grader Christina DeNicola, who is in third grade.
Hailey Montero is already planning what she wants to make for next year's show.
“I already know what I want to make: a giant peppermint out of a lot of ingredients,” Montero said.