Painting teaches valuable lessons

Published 10:16 pm Thursday, December 4, 2014

Downtown Suffolk was inundated with Suffolk Public Schools students wielding paintbrushes and jars of paint on Tuesday and Thursday.

Dozens of students fanned out across the area and decorated the front windows of 12 downtown businesses — including the Suffolk News-Herald — with their handiwork.

By the time they were done, snowflakes, Christmas trees, strands of light, Santa Clauses, animals such as polar bears and reindeer, wrapped gifts and more were among the adornments that will greet downtown visitors throughout the Christmas season.

Email newsletter signup

Each group of students offered its take on the theme “Musical Down Main Street,” ranging from the singing group of animals to a rockin’ Santa holding a guitar.

For the students I talked to, it was a fun morning to escape from the classroom and get into the Christmas spirit. But there were, of course, plenty of more important things going on, the teachers said. After all, learning is always most fun when the students don’t realize it’s happening.

Rather than just create art for themselves and their teachers, the students were creating art to be seen by the public, and some of them had to respond to specific requests from business owners — such as the request from one eatery, the Plaid Turnip, the incorporate turnips into the art. They had to be flexible, change their vision to suit the circumstances, work as a team, respect other people’s space and more — all important characteristics in a professional artist or any well-rounded adult.

This is the 14th year of the program, which, as one teacher pointed out, also provides great publicity for the schools. Whoever dreamed up the program 14 years ago should be commended for his or her ingenuity, and those who have continued to support it in various capacities throughout the years — school administrators, business owners, city officials and more — have provided an invaluable service to the students who have learned lessons painting on windows that they wouldn’t have learned in the classroom.