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For the love of art

Megan Tellinghuisen helps helps third graders with their art project. (Kim Brasel / Perham Focus).1 / 2
Perham High School Senior, Erika Kruzel, works with third graders at on their art projects that will be up for auction to help raise money to buy art supplies for the elementary school. (Kim Brasel / Perham Focus).2 / 2

Perham High School English teacher Jennifer Bain felt the traditional senior english curriculum wasn't having quite the effect it could or should have, so she decided to use the flexibility she had and changed things up a bit.

"On Fridays they can take on a project that they think needs improvement. I simply asked them, what do you think could be better? If only we could make this better..."

This is the second year for the project, and Bain has seen some amazing ideas from the students. What's amazed her about this group of seniors is that they haven't sat around and waited for direction, they are off and running.

Senior Erika Kruzel has a passion for art, and when she learned the elementary school doesn't have a dedicated art program, she decided she wanted to raise money for art supplies for the school. Three other seniors are also working with her on this project—Syndey Riepe Lindsey Soule, and Megan Tellinghusien. Over the trimester the four girls will visit several classrooms helping the students with canvas paintings. The artwork will be auctioned off at the Spooktacular dinner and dance on October 27, with all proceedsl going to the art fund. Her initial thought was to auction the painted ceiling tiles at the high school. That part of the project is still in the works.

"It's important kids get to experience this in school, and I want to see it kept alive and apart of their day," Kruzel said. "I want to do what I can to promote it."

Third grade Teacher Deb Hart thinks it's great the kids get some extra time working on art projects and that they get to interact with the high school students and see them as good role models.

"They are excited to have the seniors in the classroom, and we don't get enough art time so it's a great combination," she said.

Hart added the school does have a retired teacher come in to do art projects several times during the year, but otherwise it's up to each classroom teacher to provide art curriculum.

Bain tells all the groups they need to research and show why there is a need for the project they are tackling.

Bain's hope is that this project gives the seniors a way to explore their interests while doing some good in the community. Other senior projects include a barbershop quartet that does community service, a group working to get supplies for the homeless, and a group reading to elementary students.

"They take pride in this project, and the beauty of it is they get to the point where they say we never thought we could do this and the community gets to see teenagers in a different light," Bain said. "This generation is eager to serve. They just need to be pointed in the right direction."