MODESTO -- Art clay: $20. Student helpers: gratis. Gifts parents will treasure forever: priceless.
Wide smiles and grimy hands ruled the day as 17-year-olds paired with 7-year-olds to create mini-masterpieces in the Central Catholic High School art room Wednesday morning.
Spoiler alert: Parents of St. Stanislaus Parish School second-graders might want to read this after unwrapping their presents on Christmas morning.
Young artists made sketches of their families, then rolled, pinched, poked, squeezed and smooshed rough clay likenesses for hangable plaques. The sculptures put a fresh spin on kindergarten handprints many a parent keeps tucked away in a memory box.
High school seniors pitched in to help youngsters master the malleable medium. Central Catholic art teacher Lisa Barker said some of her students have expressed an interest in going into teaching. Working with the younger class from down the street gave them a preview.
"It's a chance for my kids to help and interact with younger students," Barker said.
Advanced art students Monica Aguilar and Gabby Sani said that after working with the kids, they could see the appeal. "I loved doing art as a kid. It's great to teach them new things and they can go home and do it," Sani said.
Beginning art student Zoe Sephos said she enjoyed the youngsters, but doesn't see a career in art panning out. "Actually, I'm really bad at art. I'm just helping out," she said with a grin.
Senior Evan Haworth said helping the kids during his period as an aide was a lot of fun, but not his calling. "I think I'll stick to dairy," he said with a laugh.
Future teachers or not, the Central Catholic collaboration was a boon for her class, said St. Stanislaus second-grade teacher Ginny McGiff. "We do art quite a bit. But we're not able to do clay. We don't have a kiln," she said.
McGiff said she incorporates art into lessons when she can. "Every child has a different learning style. Some children learn through art," she said.
But kids figuring out how to shape a skirt, maneuver implements to carve a face or curl strings of clay into hair didn't see that as learning. "It's fun," several said. They were just making a present.
Bee education reporter Nan Austin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2339, and on Twitter, @NanAustin.