Art show highlights Penns Valley students’ talent, cultural exchange with Ghana

bmilazzo@centredaily.comFebruary 27, 2013 

— Penns Valley sixth-grader Nathaniel Warren came up with a way to artistically show the connection between the United States and Ghana.

It’s all part of the Penn State reBUild project Penns Valley elementary schools are part of in a cultural exchange with Ghanaian students.

And this week, the three Penns Valley Area elementary schools held an art show to showcase their work.

“They’re excited to show the art they worked so hard on creating,” said art teacher Steph Ripka.

On Monday, Miles Township Elementary hosted the art show; Tuesday, Penns Valley Elementary held an art show; and Wednesday, Centre Hall Elementary will have its art show from 6 to 8 p.m.

At Tuesday’s art show, Ripka allowed students to write their compliments on their peers’ drawings and give positive feedback.

Ripka said this is the first year the school district held the show, where each student submitted one piece of work they wanted to showcase, while also honoring student mural contest winners like Nathaniel.

Nathaniel, 11, won the reBUild mural design contest with his drawing on Tuesday. The contest is part of the student art show, which is happening this week.

“My drawing shows how Ghana and the United States are connected and how we help them,” Nathaniel said. “It’s cool to get the medal, and my parents will think it’s cool that I won.”

The drawing will become the backdrop for a Penns Valley Elementary mural, Ripka said.

Ripka has been involved with the reBUild Project the past four years and wanted to show a way to promote the project and the students’ art.

“It’s important to recognize this partnership and highlight the students’ work,” Ripka said.

According to the district, Penns Valley students are able to connect with their sister schools in Ghana through the partnership, in which they read and research Ghanaian culture and festivals, collaborate on the development of a mural, create and compare art connected to Ghana, and discuss other related topics in order to develop a deeper understanding of cultural similarities and differences throughout the world.

During the art show and mural contest, students’ murals visually represented the relationship Penns Valley students are engaged in between the United States and Ghana.

This year, Ripka said, about 30 students across the school district were awarded best mural, with Nathaniel winning the overall title.

The mural contest was part of the Singing Tree project — a project designed to unite Penns Valley students with their sister schools in Ghana.

The winning mural design will be used to create the Singing Tree Mural, which will include all Penns Valley students’ postcard sized artwork, according to the school district. Their artwork will be incorporated into a large mural, which will be printed and given to each of their sister schools in Ghana including Tarkwa Senior High School, Dunkwa Boa Amposem High School, Subin Hill Anglican School and Pokukrom Primary School.

Research and Education on Buruli Ulcer, Inundations and Land Disturbance — reBUild — is a five-year program funded by the National Science Foundation and is a collaboration among university science researchers, science educators at CSATS, and K-12 teachers.

Britney Milazzo can be reached at 231-4648. Follow her on Twitter @brmilazzo.

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