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Raising Awareness Through Art

Students at Academy of the Sacred Heart Learn To Care for the Environment

One of the educational goals of Academy of the Sacred Heart is “A social awareness which impels to action.” Students there live this goal daily.  

This year, eighth-grade students participated in the David Shepard Wildlife Foundation Global Canvas Competition. This annual global art contest encourages student collaboration, ideation, and creativity, while allowing students the opportunity to display concern for our planet’s environment and the diverse wildlife that inhabits it.  

The theme this year is “Healing Nature – A Planet on Edge.” Throughout the multi-step installation, students tapped into their planning, collaboration, problem-solving and presentation skills. They became aware of changes they can make in their community and the world through their “outside the box” approach to the assignment, as well as through dialogue with their peers. 

Academy students eagerly accepted the challenge to create a three-part installation that draws the viewer through time. Using 50-year increments, students tell a story of the Amazon Jungle in the past, present and what they believe it may look like in the future. In order to convey their findings visually, students worked in groups on the installation as well as computer presentations.  

One major component of their installation was utilizing found or recycled materials. Students instantly saw that our one-time-use plastic containers in the lunchroom could be used for making sculptures, including the creation of a jaguar, a bulldozer blade and even a macaw. Throughout this project, the students commented on how proud they were to be part of a project that raised awareness for our world. They enjoyed the opportunity to collaborate with each other and show younger students at the Academy that small changes can be made in their community that have far reaching effects. 

The final step will be creating a video that documents their efforts as well as sharing the key message of why climate change, pollution, and deforestation need to be curbed...their story being one of urgency to heal the damage that has been done and to encourage others to think outside the box much like they have done in creating this piece. The installation will then be submitted to the David Shepard Wildlife Foundation for review.  

The purpose of this project is not so much to win the competition but rather to shed light on a problem in our global community and inspire students to take action. Middle School Principal, Ms. Julie Werton, shared these words about the project, “Through this project, Academy middle school students continued to be inspired to be active and informed citizens at a global level. I hope our students get to experience the positive impacts their actions can have in helping to protect endangered species, their habitats and our planet. This installation allowed students to be active, informed and responsible citizens in our world, just as Goal III of a Sacred Heart education calls them to be." 

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