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The original idea behind Thursday's visit by Lincoln Elementary School third-graders to a Corvallis High School pottery class was to give the younger kids an idea of how a pot is fired.

But when the teachers realized the classes had enough extra time to give the younger kids a chance to try spinning pots themselves, they asked the elementary students if they wanted to try working the clay.

And the students’ hands shot up.

Christa Schmeder, the ceramics teacher at Corvallis High, said the chance for the Lincoln students to work the clay with help from Corvallis High students was part of a project funded by the Corvallis Public Schools Foundation for district students to create eclipse-themed artwork. Schmeder said after she heard about the $350 grant, she volunteered to have her advanced ceramics class collaborate with her sister Samantha Arnst’s class at Lincoln.

So the high school students threw the pots and visited Lincoln last week to help Arnst’s students glaze them. The Corvallis High School students have worked all week to fire the pots.

Schmeder said it’s valuable for her students to teach the younger students about ceramics because they have to think about what they are doing and articulate it.

“Sometimes the person who learns the most is the teacher. ... My students learn more because they have to explain it,” she said.

She added that the elementary students benefit by getting to see kids that look like them at the school they attend in the future.

“They have something to look forward to at the end of middle school,” she said.

Cooper Johnson, a sophomore in Schmeder’s advanced ceramics class, said he liked working with the younger kids. He said they told kids about eclipse myths and then let them come up with their own art inspired by the myths, which included details such as a leaping fish blocking the sun and a wolf eating the sun.

“All of the ideas they came up with were really easy to understand and beautiful,” he said.

Johnson added that he has mostly made pots that are a solid color, and he liked seeing what the kids came up with by mixing glaze colors and painting pictures so much he wanted to try it himself.

Johnson said both the high school students and the elementary school students had a good time on the collaboration.

“It’s definitely something I think we’ll do in the future. It was a really good experience for them and for us.”

Teagan Ocampo and Maggie Brown, both Lincoln students, said they had fun working with the high school students.

“We learned a lot from them, and they were really nice,” said Teagan.

Both said they wanted to take pottery when they got to Corvallis High.

“I love art and I love pottery. I’ve always wanted to do pottery, I finally got a chance today,” said Maggie.

Photos of the pots created through the collaboration will be on display this summer at the school district office, at 1555 SW 35th St. in Corvallis.

Anthony Rimel covers education and can be reached at, 541-758-9526, or via Twitter @anthonyrimel.



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