As families funneled into the halls of Ridgeview Elementary School Saturday morning, art teacher Penelope McMillion stood at the start of the art walk to welcome each and every visitor.
“Art is everywhere around us,” she said of the more than 700 pieces of artwork displayed down the hallways of the school.
The annual art walk began when the school opened its doors in 2008 and provides an opportunity for the young, proud creators to show off the drawings and projects that took them about three weeks to complete.
“I think it’s a great creative outlet for them,” McMillion said. “It’s a way for them to express themselves a little bit differently than they do in the normal classroom so I just encourage it and I think it’s great.”
It’s not every day that a 5-year-old has original work in a public exhibition, so parents Derrick and Cindy Callahan were delighted to see daughter Addy’s hand-drawn flower and three-dimensional butterfly posted on the corkboard strip alongside her fellow classmates.
“She’s our artist,” Cindy said. “She draws for hours upon hours and makes a lot of different animals. In fact, she’s better than I am.
“Wednesday is the day she has art class, so it’s her favorite.”
McMillion said her students have been excited about the event for the last few weeks and worked diligently during their 55-minute classes to get their pieces finished in time for the art walk.
Third-grader Parker Duncan was one of those enthusiastic students. He lead his family and younger brother Gabe to a drawing of a shark in a big city full of tall buildings. He said he was instructed to draw a statue and what kind of city he would put it in. Being a lover of sharks made the choice pretty easy.
“I’m proud of it,” he said.
Seeing the creations of their offspring was reason enough for parents to make the trip, but glancing down the rows of sketches provided hard evidence of just how powerful the imagination can be.
“This is a great idea to see not just (my children’s) work, but what the whole school is doing,” said Kristen Duncan, a parent.
What were once blank sheets of letter-sized paper became trees of all shapes and colors, rolling mountain scenes, animals like horses and penguins, plus depictions of sports teams and even anime characters.
“That’s the thing that seems to be interesting about this, is that everybody seems to be different,” McMillion said. “They all have unique personalities.”
The art walk was also a fundraiser that coincided with the annual basket sale. McMillion said previous walks, plus other money-raising ventures allowed Ridgeview Elementary to purchase a kiln that they will be using for the first time this month. Donations at Saturday’s special art tour went toward supplies and additional items needed for the school’s first ceramic project, which will allow students to make a small Christmas gift.
McMillion said art class allows students a little change in their daily routines. She’s proud of the many talented artists she teaches at Ridgeview Elementary and doesn’t mind coming out on a Saturday so that parents can see what their children are up to.
“They get to express themselves a little bit differently,” she said. “It’s definitely worth it, because the kids are so proud of their artwork. It’s great to let them be able to show this off.”