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Creative creations

Janine Marnien

LA CRESCENTA -- Nick Unruh carefully brought a vase into creation

while other students glazed pieces they had already made during an

after-school clay class Wednesday at Valley View Elementary School.


It was Nick’s third time throwing a piece on the pottery wheel set up

-- along with a kiln -- in the kindergarten area of the school.

“It’s hard,” said Nick, a fifth-grader. “You can’t make it too thin

and you have to shape it so your fingers don’t get caught.”


Fellow artist and first-grader Alex Jenks was glazing a boat he made

at a previous class. Alex said that he has fun using the clay.

“The best part is that you get to make stuff and take it home,” he


The class is a project of the Parent-Teacher Assn. and the brainchild

of Dave Fischer and Lisa Heflin. Its goal is to get the arts back into

public schools.

“Clay is magic for children,” Fischer said. “It’s more hands-on than


other media, it’s dirty and they can move it any way they want.”

Held every Wednesday after school since January, the program has had

more than 150 participants. Different sessions are held for students in

primary and upper grades. Only the older students are allowed to use the

wheel because of the strength needed to control it.

Heflin said teacher response to the program has been positive. Some

classes have been assigned specific projects to make at the after-school



For February, one teacher had her students make hearts with their

fingerprint in the center, and another asked her students to create

four-leaf clovers for March.

The school is planning an art showcase in May to display some of the

clay pieces.