Spotlight on Art Throughout MPCSD

  • MPCSD is fortunate to offer a robust art curriculum at every campus, taught by credentialed art teachers, making regular art instruction and creation an integrated feature of our students’ K-8 experience. Teachers introduce students to a variety of artists and styles, and children try their hands at different techniques, from sand painting to ceramics, pop art to impressionism. Along the way, crucial lessons in storytelling, collaboration, history, math, acting, and so much more are being absorbed. Fine motor skills and even hand strength are honed.


    A recent third grade project illustrates how art complements the rest of the MPCSD curriculum. Students planned a project based on the lollipop forest concept. Since their final piece would include a cutout photo of themselves, they had to plan their canvas ahead of time, posing for the photo in a way that would incorporate into their vision for the story they wanted to tell with their art. Taking a project from inspiration to completion, especially one with multiple mediums and steps, helps children learn the kind of long-range, multi-tasking thinking that will allow them to succeed in the twenty-first century world they will graduate into. That’s why for MPCSD, art education is not an “extra” or a “special”; it is a necessary and complementary piece of the comprehensive education panorama to which all children should have access.


    MPCSD student-created art gets around, too! There is a permanent exhibition in the Menlo Park Burgess Library, with each campus rotating on a monthly basis showing its art. The Silicon Valley Animal Control Facility is displaying Hillview students' animal paintings throughout the 2017 holiday season. In February 2018 one of our favorite local toy stores, Cheeky Monkey, will create a window display featuring the work of MPCSD student artists to celebrate Lunar New Year.


    Here are some art highlights from each campus:

    Laurel Elementary School

    Monique Donecho teaches art at Laurel Lower Campus, home to grades K-2. Kindergarten students engaged Laurel student art line drawing with the book “Little Green” and learned about and focused on the element of art, LINE, creating many different types of lines in all the directions that “Little Green” flew in the book. First graders studied Georgia O’Keefe and her abstraction in nature and then explored natural objects outside with magnifying glasses. They paid special attention to texture, highlights, and shadows of their objects and created their own O’Keefe-inspired artwork using pastels. Laurel studen art leaf drawing Second graders learned about the art form of Molas made by the Kuna people of Panama, and then created their own Molas collages with a focus on color and contrast.


    At Laurel Upper Campus, Christie Giacomozzi instructs grades 3-5. The year started with a bang in the art studio with Gustav Klimt Tree of LifeArt student Tree of Life interpretations, Sandra Silberzweig abstract chalk art faces, and non-objective/abstract sand art. As part of the campus-wide clay unit, the 5th graders made squirrels as a forever memory of their time as a Laurel Squirrel. This is especially meaningful as they graduate from Laurel....once a squirrel, always a squirrel!5th grade Laurel student clay squirrel project  This year's highlights will also include an Artist Trading Card swap with art students from all over the world, and a campus wide collaborative fiber-arts project titled "Laurel Has Heart." An exciting addition to the Laurel Upper art studio this year has been our Laurel Masterpiece Gallery, where students are invited to bring artwork made at home to be featured in the Gallery, for students, parents, and teachers to enjoy. The amazingly creative artwork is flowing in daily to our ever-changing gallery, and encouraging students to make art at home! 


    Encinal Elementary School:

    Encinal Art calendar for North Bay Fire relief Stephanie Noon teaches art at Encinal. In the fall, her students learned about street artist J. Goldcrown and used his idea of overlapping hearts to create images that represent our community, the Bay Area, California, and the USA. The beautiful pieces that resulted became a calendar sold as a relief effort with proceeds benefitting victims oCarnivale clay masks f the North Bay Fires. The overall school-wide theme is Italian art, correlating with Encinal's Annual Cultural Arts Day that features Italy this year. Many grade levels made Carnevale clay masks with inspiration from Venice. Students had fun learning about da Vinci with their Mona Lisa Parody project.Mona Lisa Parody student art Students are also connecting art, math, world cultures and history by studying Leonardo da Pisa (a.k.a. Fibonacci). The Fibonacci unit has led us on an adventure through how modern day mathematics spread throughout the world and changed the western world. The Fibonacci sequence has given us an opportunity to play with spirals and patterns in nature as we interpret these ideas through our own art. Read more about Encinal's world of art at the Encinal art website.


    Oak Knoll Elementary School:Monet inspired Boats by Oak Knoll students

    Oak Knoll students, led by Jayd Almquist, learn about Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Georgia O'Keefe, and Claude Monet among many other master artists. We build with clay, use saws and sandpaper, and paint, creating Van Gogh flowers, Picasso-inspired cubist guitars,Cubist guitars by Oak Knoll students Monet red boats, and O'Keefe style flowers. This year students created a school-wide art project inspired from the book "Only One You." The book’s message is "There’s only one you in this world so make it a better place." Each student painted a rock that became a piece of a large outdoor spiral. Now the front of the school is a beautiful piece of art! Learn more about art at Oak Knoll at the Oak Knoll art website.

     School-wide spiral art installation at Oak Knoll














    Hillview Middle School:

    Charcoal drawing by Hillview student of cow stranded after Hurricane Harvey The students in Hillview art teacher Anna Kogan's advanced art class were off to a busy start in the fall. During Hurricane Harvey, students used news photos from the flood scenes to create moving and beautiful charcoal drawings representing the destruction - and hope - of the disaster. Those pieces became the first of a rotating display of MPCSD student art at the Menlo Park Burgess Library. The class also paid a visit to the Silicon Valley Animal Control Facility in Santa Clara, which serves Menlo Park. Students learned about the work the facility does to help abandoned animals in the area. Students also socialized with kittens and small dogs at the facility to prepare them for their new homes. While at the facility, students took photos of the animals and used these photos as the basis for portraits of individual cats and dogs.Humane society chihuahua painting by HV student Students worked in gouache and colored pencil for the portraits and also completed a short written piece to go along with each portrait, composed from the point of view of the animal. Volunteers and members of the Silicon Valley Animal Control Facility visited Hillview to see the completed art pieces and talk to the students about their experience working with animals and then using them as their art subjects. They were so impressed that they are now on view at the facility temporarily! They will also use the portraits for greeting cards to raise money for the shelter.Painting of cat drinking milk by HV student The students loved meeting the animals on the field trip and enjoyed painting a portrait of the animal that they visited. One student even adopted two kittens! Read more at Hillview's Art website.