Parkrose High’s library gets artistic treatment; Swim Center sponsors “Dive-in Movie”

Within a couple of days of each other, Parkrose High School’s library unveiled permanent student artwork – and the school’s Swim Center held a movie night in their beautiful pool. You’ll learn about both, here …

Parkrose High School artists Jazzy Koczian and Heather Aplington, both juniors, show off their art, decorating the end of the Reference Section book rack.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The Parkrose High School library is modern and well stocked with books. In fact, the least attractive part of the spacious room has been the shelves – until librarian Stephanie Thomas got an idea.

“The hospital-gray shelves are very sturdy and functional, but they’re just not very attractive,” Thomas said, as parents and student artists gathered for the unveiling of a major art project two weeks ago.

“We talked to art students, and their teacher, Bev Cordova, and we decided what we can do with the shelving,” Thomas told us. “We decided to decorate them by asking students to create works of art for the ends of the shelves.”

Parkrose High School librarian Stephanie Thomas thanks the student artists for their contribution.

Art, by topic
The artwork is inspired by the topic of books on the shelf, noted Thomas.

Your reporter was puzzled looking at the tall panel on the Library’s east end, decorated by juniors Jazzy Koczian and Heather Aplington – when trying to guess the content of those shelves.

“If it looks random,” explained Aplington, “well, it is. That’s because this is the reference section of the library. There’s everything here from National Geographic Magazines to encyclopedias.”

Koczian added, “That’s why it looks like outer space – with the nebula, and the apple and chicken. Almost every topic in the universe is in these books.”

It looks as if books, we surmise, which are about art, are on the shelves for which Cesar Pina painted an end cap. He says we’re correct.

Color coordinated panels
“As the panels go from one end of the library to the other,” Thomas pointed out, “the colors flow and blend.”

Now getting the idea, we met student Cesar Pina, a talented Parkrose High student artist.

“Yes, they’re books about art,” Pina affirmed. “They’re both about historical art, and cartoons. So I thought we could incorporate both styles of art in the drawing.  I have a Salvador Dali ‘Melting Clock’, ‘The Thinker’, and ‘Scream’.”

Up to the challenge
“The project was a pretty big challenge,” admitted art instructor Bev Cordova. “Finding some kind of theme to turn into an image can be pretty difficult, when there are as many 500 books in a section.

“Finally, we projected the final images onto the panels, traced them out, and started painting,” concluded Cordova. “It took a lot longer than we expected, because we are working for equality. The kids love the idea that these will be up for 20 to 30 years.”

During the six-week-long project, some of the students didn’t finish their panels. “Students Cesar Pina and Isaac Song spent many hours, five or six days after school, getting them ready for display,” Cordova commended.

Valerie Robinson, a senior, calls her panel, “Stairway to the Unknown”. It represents the mystery and horror fiction which are on these shelves, she says.

Terry Franceschi, the school’s Theater Operations Manager, was credited for suggesting that the shelves could be capped with wood. “More than that,” Thomas said, “he cut the wood to size, and mounted each of the works of art for us.”

Everyone present agreed that the project turned out well.

“I feel like the panels create a warm and inviting environment,” said Thomas. “When students come in they feel more welcome here.”

Parkrose Swim Center hosts “Dive-in Movie” night

It was unclear whether the draw was the movie they planned to show in the Swim Center – or the attraction of a free community swim night – but the facility was packed to capacity at the event.

The last day of February, just a couple of days after the library’s art project was unveiled, the school hosted another event.

“I’m the coordinator for the ‘Dive-In Movie Night’ at Parkrose High School,” said Brendan Gill, the school’s program developer for its Community Connections Program.

“It was the idea of Career Center Coordinator, Meg Kilmer,” explained Gill. “We agreed it would make a big impact on the school; it would be a great after-school activity, because we have a great pool here.”

Brendan Gill, an AmeriCorps member assigned to the school, says he’s happy the event was such a “splashing” success.

The event, Gill said, was the kickoff for other Community Nights in the upcoming weeks. “They’ll be held in the Parkrose High Theater.”

As workers prepared to run the movie, more and more families poured into the Swim Center. Soon, the facility was at capacity. The event drew a crowd that topped out at 150 folks.

While some of the organizers seemed peeved that not many of those present settled down to actually watch the movie, it was clear that a swim in pool was the event’s main attraction.

The lights dimmed, but few people could hear the soundtrack of the movie over the ambient noise of folks having fun in the pool.

It was clear the kids and adults were having too much fun to settle down and watch a movie. Movie-goers may have been annoyed by the splashing ruckus, but we didn’t hear any complaints. It looked as if everyone was having a great evening.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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