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Creating Portraits of Orphans Shows Students the Big Picture

A project involving Caledonia High School students creating portraits of orphaned children in Haiti wrapped up this semester with delivery of the final pieces of art back to the children.

During the 2012-2013 school year, National Art Honor Society members received photos from The Memory Project, a nonprofit that sends pictures of disadvantaged children from around the world to students to turn into portraits. A $15 donation with each piece of artwork pays for shipping along with a needed item or gift for the orphanages taking care of the children.

Caledonia students raised $750 at their annual Fine Arts Night to cover this cost, which helped buy mattresses for orphanages, according to Mike Cornell, Caledonia art teacher and National Art Honor Society adviser.

Katelyn Hamming, who drew portraits of two orphans, said it was the best project she did all year. “I loved the fact that my artwork was actual going to make a young child happy and maybe look at things a little bit differently,” she said. “I had the opportunity to make someone smile through my art, someone I’ve never met, and it was great.” Katelyn Hamming made a picture of the young boy she received into a race car driver

Cornell said the project gave students a different perspective of their art. “Students don’t often get to see so clearly the impact their artwork may have on individual viewers. This is such a unique opportunity for our art students, we’re all grateful for our community’s support of The Memory Project.”

This is the second year Caledonia students participated. They plan to raise funds at the spring Fine Arts Night to do it again this year.

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Photos and a video of the orphans receiving the portraits

CalVisual Arts photos of the orphans with their portraits

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Linda Odette
Linda Odette is a freelance writer and editor with more than 30 years of experience in journalism. She’s worked primarily as an editor in feature departments at newspapers in West Michigan, including the Grand Rapids Press, the Muskegon Chronicle and the Holland Sentinel. She lives in East Grand Rapids near the Eastown edge, has a teenage son and a daughter in college. Read Linda's full bio or email Linda.

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