Sixth-grade students at Kaiser Elementary School in Costa Mesa were given a new class Wednesday, but they didn’t seem to mind.
Chany Pennewaert pressed the pattern of a coat of arms into a thin metal sheet. He had drawn it on a piece of paper and now traced it with a pointed wooden tool.
“I like to draw swords a lot,” he said.
The class, dedicated solely to art, had its first session at Kaiser this month.
For the past two years, the Woodland Kaiser Parent Faculty Organization has paid for the instruction at nearby Woodland Elementary School and this March expanded it.
“The kids get really excited about it,” longtime Kaiser teacher Linda Galloway said, adding that the dedicated arts education is something out of the ordinary for her class.
“Art and science both get shortchanged,” she said.
The Parent Faculty Organization donates $8,500 to fund the program, providing two hours of art instruction for each grade.
Caran Fahy, an art instructor who used to teach in Texas schools, approached the organization with the idea.
“When I moved [to Southern California], I couldn’t find a job because they took art away at the elementary level,” Fahy said.
Not wanting to leave her career of more than two decades, she opened an after-school art program called Fine Art Express in Costa Mesa.
Now she gets to head back into the classroom at Woodland and Kaiser for a months-long celebration of creativity.
“The whole school got inspired, and we got fired up,” she said.
After students work on individual pieces, she helps mold them into a larger works of art, such as a painted trash can students all contributed to or a banner filled with student footprints and handprints.
She hopes those items will help make the temporary art class self-sustaining.
The Parent Faculty Organization sold the student work last year as part of a silent auction fundraiser and made more than $1,000.
Like other classes’ art this year, Chany’s work will be combined with his fellow sixth-graders’ and sold too, but parents will have to show up May 4 for the campus fair to find out exactly what that looks like.
“It hasn’t been revealed yet,” Fahy said.