Art students learn to be kind to animals

Published 10:18 pm Thursday, May 5, 2011

A group of Suffolk Public Schools art students is learning compassion through art.

About 40 students will be honored tonight for their participation in the Suffolk Humane Society’s “Be Kind to Animals Art Contest.”

Co-sponsored by Suffolk Public Schools, the art contest encouraged students to create artwork that illustrates how to be kind to animals. Students from kindergarten through 12th grade turned in paintings, drawings, sculptures and more, said Michele Thames, who was in charge of the contest for the humane society.

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“The purpose of the show is to get kids in Suffolk involved in a creative way to show compassion and kindness toward animals,” Thames said.

A reception for the students will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. tonight at the Suffolk campus of Paul D. Camp Community College, 271 Kenyon Road. This also is the public’s last chance to view the work.

Thames said Stephanie Gwaltney, an art teacher at Robertson and Mount Zion elementary schools, coordinated the contest by communicating with the principals and art teachers to get the works submitted.

“I’m so thankful to have her,” Thames said.

Suffolk Humane Society volunteer Kay Hurley said the contest could even help improve the school environment in many ways, including reducing violence.

“If children learn compassion at an early age, I think as a whole we’re all going to live in a much better community,” Hurley said.

Thames added that children sometimes are taught to see companion animals as property instead of living things with feelings. If they are taught that, “They’re going to grow up into adults that will also do that,” she said.

Thames said the art is an insightful look into how students view animals.

“It’s interesting to see how kids interpret compassion to animals through art,” she said.

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