Individuality Rocks at Vernon School
As a way to brighten up the school, celebrate what makes us unique, and honor the memory of former student, Anthony Petrovic, who loved art and music, the entire Vernon School student body joined the latest craze of rock painting.
The idea, which reinforces Principal Dr. Valerie Vacchio’s message to students of always choosing kindness, originated with the school’s Site-Based Committee and stemmed from The Kindness Rock Project, started by Megan Murphy of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. With randomly placed rocks, The Kindness Rock Project inspires others to perform random acts of kindness.
Art teacher Ms. Karen Crowley organized the project for the 3-6 grade art classes, providing students with an extensive lesson on design process as they created and applied their designs to their rocks. To support the message of kindness and celebrating differences, the rock project was done in conjunction with a school-wide reading of, Everybody Needs a Rock, written by Byrd Baylor and illustrated by Peter Parnall, and aligned with the character trait of the month, individuality.
While students were reading this book in their classes, and discussing the significance of finding a rock unique to an individual, Ms. Crowley taught them about the history of human efforts of painting on and inscribing images on rocks and stones. In art class they examined the painted cave walls of Lascaux France, petroglyph images left by Native Americans on rock formations that are in present day California, painted rock walls from South America and Africa, and carved and painted cliff walls in Tibet.
“Students discovered that this urge to make a human mark on pieces of rock has existed since ancient times and appears in most if not all of the continents on Earth,” Ms. Crowley said.
“Most of these ancient rock images communicate stories or information without the use of the written word. For example, students were able to decipher the importance of animals in many ancient cultures by seeing their strength and movement depicted on the walls.”
With that knowledge, students were challenged to communicate their own ideas with others in paint on the surface of a rock.
“Although they could include a word or two, the focus was to create imagery that expressed something unique to the student,” Ms. Crowley said.
In order to use design thinking and creative processes in the generation of their ideas, students were asked to take on a variety of stylistic approaches for making their designs. One design idea had to be realistic, a second idea had to be abstract, a third idea had to be imaginative, and the fourth idea was of their own free choosing. Students looked at samples of great art in all of these styles in order to help them identify their traits.
“Ultimately, this process challenged students to expand their approach to designing solutions for their drawings and move beyond their first, quickest attempt,” Ms. Crowley said.
When they finished all four designs, they discussed them with Ms. Crowley, selecting their strongest design for painting on their rocks, and then refining it.
“The rock painting project was an experience of a real-world design process, especially one that combines visual analysis with personal feelings,” Ms. Crowley added. “We hope everyone likes our rocks as much as we enjoyed making them!”
Among the finished rocks are colorful designs relating to animals, sports, food, beaches, people and more. The rocks will be displayed in Vernon’s front hallway showcase for all to see until a special showcase that was specifically ordered for the rock project is delivered.
“Vernon’s Individuality Kindness Rock Project was a hit with our students,” said Dr. Vacchio. “It’s wonderful when students have the opportunity to use art as a medium to express themselves and their unique qualities. This special project is one that students will remember for many years to come.”
Students, under the direction of art teacher Ms. Karen Crowley, learned about the various stages of the design process while developing their rock paintings. Each student made two tracings of their design -- one in graphite (above) and one in colored pencil (below).
The finished design.
Rocks will be displayed in Vernon’s front hallway showcase until a special showcase that was specifically ordered for the rock project is delivered.