Belding art students unveil installation

By Emilee Nielsen • Last Updated 12:46 pm on Tuesday, May 09, 2017

A temporary art installation was unveiled Friday to students at Belding High School. The project is comprised of photos of students and staff holding up dry erase boards with single adjectives to describe themselves. The photos are arranged to spell out “We are BHS.” The project is meant to inspire unity. — Daily News/Emilee Nielsen

BELDING — Each year, Andrea Sprague works with her 3-D design students to craft an art installation to be displayed at Belding High School.

Installations in the past have been both temporary and permanent fixtures in the school. This years will be temporary, but Sprague is hopeful the effects will continue to ripple throughout the school even after the installation is removed.

Students walked through the doors of the high school Friday morning to find the commons area and cafeteria papered with an estimated 650 photos of students and staff. Each of the photos depicts individual students and staff holding up a small dry erase board with one adjective to describe themselves.

“There have been so many changes this year in Belding: New mascot, new principal, new superintendent, switching conferences, new classes next year, cell phone policy enforcement and the Greenville/Belding game off the calendar …” Sprague said. “My 3-D design class decided to focus our efforts this year on creating a positive culture shift with our art installation.”

Some of the photos are arranged to spell out “WE ARE BHS.” To drive home the message of unity, students from Sprague’s class wrote a poem that was read aloud over the PA system Friday.

Edgar Tobar, an 11th-grade student at Belding High School and a student in Andrea Sprague’s 3-D design class works to install a temporary art project in the high school’s common area. — Courtesy photo

Sprague said it was important for her and her students to have all of the people in the high school participate, “because there’s just so many changes.”

“We are still all going to work together. We are still going to BHS and Belding,” she said.

Each person was called to the office several weeks ago to have their picture taken by local photographer Joseph Veselenak. Sprague said it was a fun exercise because it got people complimenting each other as they searched for their one word to describe themselves and others.

“I think, sometimes, coming up with a positive word to describe yourself puts yourself out there and people don’t always want to do that,” she said. “That’s where friends came in and teachers came in to say, ‘I see you as this,’ and that empowered them and kind creates a ripple effect.”

Shar Ornelas, a junior, said the changes made in the district haven’t been very popular in the community, but “these changes don’t affect who we really are.”

“It doesn’t change who the students are or what the community is capable of,” she said. “I feel the changes have helped us grow more and we have become more accepting of change.”

Principal Michael Ostrander said he feels the high school is “so fortunate to have” Sprague.

“I think she’s just amazing, the ideas that she has that are inclusive like that of the whole school,” he said. “This one is really neat because it’s not only individually how a kid would describe themselves but I think it’s led to cool conversations… walking around at lunch today, walking around in the morning just hearing kids talk about, ‘What word did you pick? You’re also this and you’re also this.’ That’s really neat to have kids complimenting each other and they don’t really realize they are.”

Ostrander said there have been many changes this year, but that students are happy and thriving.

“When you talk to the kids about it, they’re very happy being Belding, being Belding High School, being part of our school family and they’re not distracted by the things that other people are distracted by,” he said. “They love each other. They genuinely care about each other. It’s kind of been business as usual even though we’ve had other things that aren’t usual going on. For our kids, life is good.”

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