For North Marion High School art teacher Sara Bailey, one of the things she's most proud of is seeing her students take off and buy in completely to whatever project they are working on in a given year.
While a big part of her job is providing direction and structure, art differs from other subjects in school in that it's much more about passion than rote memorization or hours spent studying specific subjects.
"One of the things I do all the time is try to get the kids to process and think for themselves," Bailey told students and guests at North Marion's National Art Honor Society's Art Induction ceremony on May 7. "I didn't tell you what to do, but if it doesn't have that much meaning to you, it's not really going to matter."
The event honored the outgoing members of the art program while inducting new members into the group that will take the baton and run forward over the course of the coming years. It also was an opportunity to showcase the various projects the art program has spearheaded throughout the past calendar year.
From revamping the games and decorations at the North Marion Intermediate School carnival to the continued beautification of the Donald Skate Park, the NAHS program at North Marion has made a commitment to using its talent in practical ways for the betterment of the surrounding community.
This year took that idea one step further, as students from the art program worked in partnership with community leaders from Hubbard to create the city's new flag, the design of which was on display at last week's induction ceremony.
"This is the first flag that Hubbard has ever had," Bailey said. "It's awesome to me to look at that flag and know that it is going to fly in town and at our school. That's amazing to me."
The design was a joint-venture from NAHS members Isabelle Mon, Peyton Knight, Gabby Luna, Oscar Zurita and Lindsey Patton, who went from concept to fabric over the past six months, displaying the finished product at the ceremony on a prototype made of sheer fabric. The final design will be printed on a much more durable canvas flag and flown simultaneously in Hubbard and at North Marion High School following the completion of scheduled construction.
It's that permanence that Bailey was so taken with when addressing the students last week, the fact that they had contributed to their community in a way that would stand the test of time.
"When they're 40 and they're driving through, they'll go, 'Oh, we literally changed a town,'" Bailey said. "Yes, you literally changed the world for the better. This is amazing to look around and think, this is that group of people."
The project came about partly due to the recent history the NAHS program has had around the community. Over the past several years, art students at North Marion High School have been gradually improving the skate park at Donald — one of the several surrounding cities that feeds students into the North Marion School District.
City officials at Donald coordinated with art students to help build and design a series of murals at the city's park, providing a colorful and poignant backdrop for skaters and basketball players alike who use the facilities.
That project has continued with the new generation of NAHS members, where Knight helped arrange a partnership with Kauffman Construction to build a pergola on the park grounds, complete with mosaic tile stepping stones designed by art students.
The project caught the eye of Hubbard police officer Glen Bentley, who ended up being the bridge between the city and the school, noting that the city had been mulling over the idea of a flag and that the art students would be perfect for the job.
The city had a few requirements. Mount Hood had to be incorporated into the background in some way, and the city's iconic water tower had to be included as well. The students studied other city flag for inspiration and design ideas, then collaborated together and added their own elements, including color scheme and dedication to the region's hop farming industry to come up with the finished project they took to the city council.
"The process itself took about six months," Zurita said. "It was kind of funny, because we expected to have a lot of questions, but they were like, 'We love it.'"
Zurita had the final hands on the design, digitizing what they others had created to make the finished project. It was a true collaboration indicative of the school district's student body that hails from a variety of homes and towns in the surrounding northern Marion County region.
"Some of them live in Hubbard, others are (outside city limits), so they all had a different take on what it means to be Hubbard," Bailey said.
"That's kind of symbolic of our efforts," Zurita said. "I didn't come up with all of that. I took from what they art club did. It's chaotic, but it's bounded.
"It was kind of an insightful experience, because you don't often see high school kids work together as cohesively, and put together what I would say is a pretty good final product."