Tenth Grade Four Point – The Magic of Making
Tenth Grade Four Point in Review
At Gould Academy, we value learning by doing. We believe that classrooms don’t always have walls and they certainly don’t always include a teacher standing in front of neatly aligned rows of desks. The best learning comes from experiences, from action, and from exploration. While this runs through everything we do at Gould, it is most clearly on display during our Four Point activities.
This past week students took part in their Tenth Grade Four Point experience and it was a week full of community, connection, and creativity. The goal is to teach students to experience the community around them and the creativity inside them by pushing them out of their every day comfort zone.
The week starts with a day of community service. The class disbursed to eight locations for twelve separate activities around western Maine. Groups worked to prepare and serve a lunch to Bethel-area senior citizens, while other groups traveled to Lewiston to work with the Maine Immigration and Refugee Services Center, the Martin de Porres homeless shelter, the Good Shepherd Food Bank, and other community organizations.
“Community service day is an opportunity that our students seize not only to further their experience in our community,” says faculty member Adam Leff. “It is a time focused on meeting people, creating and fostering connections, and offering a little of what each of us has to others. Every single one of our students made a personal connection to a community member, be it a young child of refugee origins, or an adult who may have come into our orbit on that wonderful day. Our students gave willingly of their time, their intelligence, and most importantly their hearts.”
“Every single one of our students made a personal connection to a community member, be it a young child of refugee origins, or an adult who may have come into our orbit on that wonderful day.”
-Adam Leff | World Language Department Chair
After returning from their community service activities, the students spent the rest of the week in workshops with artists from around Maine and across the country. The artists workshops are designed to help students explore a craft, skill, or medium that they may not have the opportunity to dive deeply into during the academic year.
Students can choose from seven workshops ranging from Metalwork to Circus Arts, Oil Painting to Fashion Design. The instructors are world class and include Alexa Stark ’07, a successful fashion designer and Gould alumna based in Portland, Oregon. Alexa just came off of showing her work at New York Fashion week, but has come back to campus to serve on the faculty of Tenth Grade Four Point for each of the last three years.
Other faculty include:
- Bruce Bulger, master woodworker from Deer Isle, Maine
- David Wolfe, master printmaker with a studio and press in Portland, Maine
- Eric Ziner, master metalsmith from Deer Isle, Maine
- Philip Frey, painter from Sullivan, Maine
- Erin Lovett Sherman, Artistic Director at ARTSFEST, dancer, choreographer, and director from Laconia, New Hampshire.
- Dustin Holzweiss ’02 – chef at Michaels Harborside Restaurant in Newburyport, Massachusetts.
“We have an exceptional array of artists, experts in their field, who come to impart their knowledge and share their love of what they do,” says visual arts faculty member Lauren Head. “They teach, they inspire, they get kids thinking and doing.”
Students spend four days immersed in the workshops. The results are spectacular. Some can go from having never having seen an anvil or set foot in a woodshop to having created their own piece of functional art from metal or wood and learning the skills and techniques required along the way.
“When creating with your hands, there are no mistakes, just learning opportunities,” says Ziner. “Students are challenged in new ways to create, and the vision they choose draws interest from and inspires their peers. Once they solve the mystery of the wires and sparks and fire, you can see the gears turning as they figure out the possibilities. The learning goes far beyond the skills themselves.”
“Once they solve the mystery of the wires and sparks and fire, you can see the gears turning as they figure out the possibilities. The learning goes far beyond the skills themselves.”
Eric Ziner | Master metalsmith
The week ends with an exhibition of the work created by students. Student pieces from oil painting, metalwork, printmaking, woodwork are on display while the circus arts workshops perform aerials, acrobatics, and juggling. A fashion show of student work kicks off a dinner prepared by students who spent time in the cooking workshop with Gould alumnus Dustin Holzweiss ’02. It is an impressive display of what teenagers can accomplish when given strong guides, the freedom to try and to fail, and the time to experiment and create.
“Using one’s hands to create is something mankind has done since the beginning. Hands on work and learning is empowering, “ says Head. “You can sit around and watch a video or a demo to learn something, or you can have the direct experience of trying it for yourself – which would you choose? Making something is powerful, it can even be a bit magical.”