Wells Fargo Center's classroom program brings art alive

  • Patrick Cvitanovic, 10, left, and Cole McNamee, 10 use action figures to create a stop motion video as part of the program "Four Score and Seven Years", at Gravenstein Elementary School in Sebastopol, on Tuesday, February 11, 2014. (BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)

Elena Malpica-Vargas made a movie Tuesday.

Not a feature film, not a documentary, not even a short. In the end, the final product was less than 10 seconds long but it featured characters battling and stumbling and Malpica-Vargas loved it.

"We got to explore, just have fun with it — fighting and saving people and fun," the fifth-grader said.

'Artists In The Schools' Program


The filmmaking and storytelling done Tuesday in both Keri Pugno and Sheila Chako's fifth grade classrooms at Gravenstein Elementary School were part of lesson one of three in the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts' "Artists in the Schools" program.

Next month, four classes of fifth-graders — two from Gravenstein, one from Liberty Elementary and one from Luther Burbank Elementary — will go the performing arts center to see the musical "Four Score and Seven Years Ago" about an unlikely friendship forged in the wake of the Civil War.

The "Artists In the Schools" program brings artists into select classrooms for a series of lessons that expound upon themes from select performances that students see during field trips.

In the current three-lesson segment, students will create on iPads short stop-motion films that will be screened after the performance of "Four Score and Seven Years Ago."

Under the tutelage of Jessica Ruskin, education director at the Charles M. Schulz Museum, students will be instructed on plot, setting and characters. Their final piece must reflect a real event from history.

"They are making their history curriculum come alive for other people and for themselves," she said.

Focusing on lessons from the play in different media allows students who may have different aptitudes to access the material in a variety of ways, she said.

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