Caldwell Arts Academy first-grade class sends messages of hope, supplies to those affected by Hurricane Florence
Tyler Morning Telegraph. Cory McCory. October 22, 2018.

Sunshine, rainbows and lots of kitty cats are on their way to the Carolinas to bring smiles to the faces of families affected by Hurricane Florence.

Caldwell Arts Academy first-grade teacher Nikki Aubuchon's class has been collecting pet supplies to send to the areas hit by Florence, which made landfall in September, and her students are sending along artwork as well.

Aubuchon said the students have been learning that everybody needs a helping hand sometimes, so they're sending dozens of hand-painted little masterpieces conveying images of hope.

Because Caldwell is an arts magnet school, the teachers strive to incorporate art into life for students. After the hurricane, Aubuchon thought allowing the students to help would be a great service project.

"The service project wasn’t about simply collecting pet food, it was about using an art form to provide hope and inspiration to people that have lost everything," she said. "My students will remember this service project for many years to come, and it will hopefully spur on their desire to continue to help others."

The students each decided what message of hope they'd like to send and began to put the idea to canvas.

“It’s been neat how they really want to help,” Aubuchon said. “We’ve read a lot of really great books about animals and kindness and helping out. They were really able to articulate how they felt about giving back.”

Winter Griffith decided to paint a sunny day with a rainbow and cross.

“I thought what could be better than a cross?” he said. “I made the sun because the sun is something they’d really like to see nowadays.”

Aubuchon said the students have their own art gallery and they spend a lot of time talking about art and using it in their lessons.

“They generated lists of words (when writing about helping others), and we came up with the word purposeful and talked about having intention in what we do,” she said “We had a lot of really interesting conversations we wouldn’t have had otherwise."

James Henderson painted a rainbow because he hopes it will make someone smile.

“We’re drawing a portrait for people who lost everything,” James said. “I would probably want to see something that makes me happy or makes me feel good.”

Sofia Cruz, who wanted to make sure her name was not spelled with a “ph,” drew cats surrounded by hearts. Aubuchon said the class uses their pets in a lot of examples when they learn, which is why so many of the images had brightly colored dogs and cats.

“I decided to do a lot of hearts,” Sofia said. “It was an image of hope and I was like ‘I hope you do not have a Hurricane again. I hope they feel happy.’”

So far the students collected more than 230 pounds of dog and cat food, as well as some school supplies.

Visit the News Archive for more magnet school news.