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Students create ceiling tile projects

Ciara Brown

Art 1 students became the Princeton High School equivalent of Michelangelo as they created their own mini versions of the Sistine Chapel.

Commissioned by teachers, the novice painters created a ceiling tile that will hang in their selected teacher’s classroom.

“This is a great project for artist development because it puts them in a real-world scenario,” said Art 1 teacher Erin Milburn. “The students are the artists and they are ‘hired’ to commission a painting for their clients, who are our teachers. This was an established art project before I came to Princeton, so I was happy to carry on the tradition and spread artwork throughout the school.”

The process started with an interview with their chosen client.

“I chose Coach Kovo, because he is one of my favorite teachers,” said 9th-grade student Valerie Rivera. “The coach does computer graphics and wanted us to adapt one of those for his tile. So he gave us the concept.”

Using Coach Ryan Kowalewski’s idea, the students created a tile with the Panther logo on an American flag backdrop.

“The coach wanted us to do this,” Valerie said. “We worked as a team to come up with the design, which I think turned out pretty well.”

Some projects included a more simplified idea, including the tile for biology teacher Rachella Fannin.

“We asked her what she wanted, and she picked out where she went to college,” said student Diego Rocha. “She helped us by showing us pictures of Grambling.”

The team of Diego and Kevyn Alejos found the information for Mrs. Fannin’s alma mater and were able to free-hand the logo and university name.

“It is unteresting that we are creating a piece of work that will mean something to her and will be hanging on her ceiling,” Diego said. “It has a lasting effect.”

Sometimes the tile design was based on a teacher’s hobby.

“We picked our teacher because it was the class we all had together,” Trinity Odle said of her group with Emily Gonzalez and Larkin Turner and their choice of math teacher Adrian Chavez. “He told us he was interested in Pac-Man, so we decided to go with that, and we really liked the painting part of this assignment.”

Pandemics Throughout History tile.

For the ceiling tile in history teacher Sidnee Crowley’s classroom, she commissioned the students to create something with a historical theme.

“She wanted something history-related, and since the coronavirus was going on, we thought we could do something with that,” student Kennedy Campbell said. “We also went with the Spanish Flu and Black Plague since those were two other prominent pandemics.”

It wasn’t hard for the group of Kennedy, Ashlyn Franck, Ciara Brown and Autumn Smith to develop their idea.

“Masks are a big part of everyone’s daily routines right now,” Ciara said. “We researched the old-fashioned way of how masks were used, so that was a big thing we had to learn about before we could start designing.”

Autumn used her drawing talents to sketch the different masks for the “Plagues Throughout History” tile.

Kennedy Campbell mixes paint to match skin tones.

“I’m a very big history freak,” Ciara said. “When we were searching our mask theme, we learned they believed the Black Plague came from rats, so it wasn’t just about masks. They covered every part of their body. There was no way to test if that was really helpful because they didn’t have the technology we do.”

Regardless of the complexity of the tiles, this was a favorite assignment for the students. 

“The students have really loved this project,” Mrs. Milburn said. “It’s also a favorite of mine. I have a koi fish painting in my room that a student painted for me two years ago, and I still love it and get to see it on my ceiling every day.”

Autumn agreed with Mrs. Milburn.

“I like art,” she said. “We get to be creative and have the freedom to do whatever we want with this project.”

 Larkin paints the Pac-Man tile.

Featured students and their tiles include:

Larkin Turner, Emily Gonzalez and Trinity Odle with the Pac-Man tile for math teacher Adrian Chavez.

 Diego works on the Grambling tile.

Diego Rocha and Kevyn Alejos with the Grambling University tile for biology teacher Rachella Fannin.

 Ashlyn Franck, Kennedy Campbell and Ciara Brown.

Ashlyn Franck, Kennedy Campbell, Ciara Brown and Autumn Smith with the pandemics of history for history teacher Sidnee Crowley.

 Addison Alexander, Valerie Rivera and Alexandra Gonzalez.

Valerie Rivera, Addison Alexander and Alexandra Marrufo with the patriotic Panther graphic for history teacher Ryan Kowalewski.