When Craig Cervantes, Colton School District's middle and high school art teacher, visited Nestucca High School with a sports team, he noticed fish art on its walls.
He was inspired by what he saw and brought the idea back to his high school students in his multiple art classes. Cervantes approached the woodshop teacher, and they came up with a plan for the shop students to cut out fish designs from wood that would then be used for the art project.
The woodshop students crafted Oregon native fish species such as trout, bass, sturgeon, whales and salmon in wood and sent them on to the art students who were asked to paint scenes that featured Oregon geography or Colton High School themes.
The young artists took the creative challenge seriously and created beautiful art on the fish cutouts. Eri Ueno, CHS exchange student from Japan, decorated his fish with an acrylic painting of the western meadowlark, Oregon's state bird. Other students took on Colton trees, mountains, sunrises, sunsets and Colton Viking art. The fish also are detailed with pictures of native flowers and wildlife, the Oregon beaver, the state bug (swallowtail butterfly) and images of the Oregon coast.
Cervantes said 36 fish painted by 17 of his art students are now displayed on the ceiling beams in the entryway of the high school.
Two students, seniors Hailee Hordichok and McKylee (Mikey) Spalinger, designed and painted art and written word murals in the hallways of the high school.
"Getting the chance to do mural art with the hope that it will brighten someone's day, brightens my day and gives me the incentive to create," Spalinger said. "Art class is my daily outlet. It is calming to watch my creations come to life. I may take a week or a month. Mr. Cervantes gives us our own time and space to make it our best artwork. He tells us art shows personality and that is as important as the design itself. It not only shows but tells the story."
The students had a selection of art projects and media as part of this year's curriculum.
"Mr. C has always been able to bring out the creative side of students," junior Sydney Earls said. "Especially those who don't believe their art is as good as others in the class. When they finally see their own creativity, I see them become really proud of their work. I admire Mr. C for his ability to bring out the best in his students. He shows us how to express ourselves through art, and I appreciate him for that."
Cervantes has been teaching art in Colton for 20 years and quotes Pablo Picasso who said, "All children are artists."
"I became interested in art because my grandma (Cathy Schmidt) is an artist," Hordichok said. "I began painting with her when I was little. Art in school has introduced me to different genres. It really is the class I look forward to every day."
Hordichok's senior project was to share her love of art with elementary-school age children in the area. She held an art camp for 13 students in her grandmother's studio. They did a wildlife acrylic painting, learned about Vincent van Gogh and did an Impressionist art piece of the night sky and a few rocks.
"I took what I love and shared it with others," Hordichok said. "It made it totally worthwhile."
Spalinger said when she was young, she would see a pencil drawing her mother had drawn of a newborn baby.
"She was always artistic," Spalinger said, "I replicated her drawing in my first year of high school art, but when I was younger I was always drawing eyes and butterflies. When Mr. C saw how much I enjoyed art, he took me under his wing and pushed me to display my talents and try other genres. He really helped me gain more confidence in what I do."
Next year, the Colton Boosters Club is looking to help with a revolving student art display at community venues. For the end of this year, the graduating class has selected Cervantes as their commencement speaker.
Colton names graduation dignitaries Valedictorians: Caleb Behrens, Dylan Bonfield, Emma Dilg, Cierra Ridenour
Salutatorian: Minadora Basargin
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