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First-Graders Imagine Life In Year 2000 : Their Artwork Will Highlight Children’s Museum Exhibit

Rachel Bibb has been thinking a lot about the future lately. Especially the year 2000, when she and her pals at Ladera Palma Primary will graduate from high school. What will the world be like then?

“Well,” she mused, “robots are going to do all the work. And there’ll be a lot of spaceships going around.”

Rachel, 6, and her classmates are among the 225 La Habra schoolchildren whose thoughts on tomorrow are featured in “Visions of the Future From the Class of 2000,” an art exhibit sponsored by the Children’s Museum at La Habra. Limited primarily to first-graders in the city’s public and private schools, the exhibit features masks, murals, drawings and crafts that depict life at the beginning of the next millennium as seen through a child’s eyes. The show opens Tuesday and continues through April 29.

According to Ladera Palma teacher Karen Jackson, the concept of life even 11 years in the future was initially a little hard to grasp for her young artists.

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“The first time we talked about what life would be like when they were in high school, they all looked up at me with these big eyes like they were thinking, ‘What? I have to go through 12 years of this?’ ” she said with a laugh. “But once they caught on, they were thrilled with the idea.”

Coordinated by assistant director J. Melissa Banning, “Visions” is part of the museum’s annual Children’s Art Festival, which will include a series of daily art workshops and a Children’s Art Festival Day on April 15, a free family event featuring ethnic entertainment, local choral and dance groups, clowns, puppets and art workshops. Performers will include the Dai-ko Taiko Drummers, mime Ruben Gerard, folk music by John Yeiser and a Chinese dance troupe. Hands-on workshops in puppet- and mask-making, clay-modeling and face-painting will keep kids up to their elbows in fun. Funded in part by a grant from Target Stores, the festival day will be presented as part of the Imagination Celebration, a countywide series of special events highlighting visual and performing arts for kids.

La Habra schools and youth groups participating in the “Visions” show include Ladera Palma, El Cerrito Elementary School, Our Lady of Guadalupe School, Las Lomas Elementary School and the Boys and Girls Club of La Habra.

With tin foil and felt pens, Jackson’s class from Ladera Palma created futuristic self-portraits that were mounted on cardboard and coiffed with more foil and trim to become colorful masks with a high-tech look. The pieces are among the more imaginative works in the show.

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“The kids loved making the masks because it was a way to express themselves, not about the way they are now, but how they might be in the future. It got them to talking about how things change,” Jackson said. “A lot of them had seen the movie, ‘Back to the Future,’ so that brought up discussions about how cars, homes, vacations and school might be different in the year 2000.” (A note of caution to the teachers’ union from 6-year-old Michael Morales, who predicts that in the year 2000, “there’ll be a lot more computers, and robots will be teachers. I’m going to like that.”)

“We had just had grandparents’ day when they had a chance to relate with older people about what school was like when they were in first grade,” Jackson added. “So from that, we talked about the time when the kids would be grandparents. By the time it was all over, we’d gone way beyond the year 2000.”

“Visions” is one of four Orange County youth-art shows being presented under the umbrella of the Orange County Centennial Committee (OCCC). According to Lance Hargis, committee operations manager, one work from the La Habra show will vie with the winner of youth art shows and workshops in last month’s Laguna Beach Winterfest, the Garden Grove Strawberry Festival and Laguna’s Festival of Arts, for the chance to be included in the official Orange County Centennial time capsule.

The winner will be displayed in a special centennial exhibit at the Festival of the Arts and tucked into the capsule with a collection of local memorabilia, official documents and the winning entries from a series of OCCC-sponsored art competitions and essay contests. The capsule will be buried on the grounds of the Old Orange County Courthouse in an August ceremony that will cap a year of centennial activities.

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“Visions of the Future from the Class of 2000" continues through April 29 at the Children’s Museum at La Habra, 301 S. Euclid St., in La Habra’s Portola Park. Museum hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $1 for children, $1.50 for adults. Reservations are required for groups of 10 or more. For information, call (213) 905-9793.


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