Not Your Average Kiln

Alto Elementary students headed outside to see their creations completed

Students from Caledonia Community Schools and Lowell Area Schools recently learned what it was like to fire pottery in an unconventional location: the school parking lot. Coincidentally, the districts performed the unique firing on the same day, using similar materials, without any knowledge of the other district’s project.

At Caledonia High School, students Charlie Janho and his fellow art students Zane Gorby, Tyler McEldowny and Jordan Steiner thought it would be fun to build a trash-can kiln, which they researched, designed and constructed on their own the previous trimester.

Warming up by the kilns are, from left, Charlie Janho, Katherine Bork, Baylee DeVos and teacher Joel Reeder

“When you fire pottery in an altered garbage can filled with sawdust and wire, you get some pretty amazing results,” said Charlie, who spearheaded the project.

Art teacher Mike Cornell said the department encourages creative risk-taking. View more pictures from the event.

Meanwhile in Lowell, fifth-grade students from Alto Elementary worked with resident artist Lee Bolt, an Alto Elementary parent and art educator, to fire up their own trash-bin treasures. The unit focused on making ceramics using a “slab” method, which involved rolling out the clay, similar to making cookies.

Student creations followed an arrowhead motif, a nod to the school’s mascot, the Red Arrows, and ties into the fifth-grade social studies unit on Native American tribal life. The finished pieces doubled as functional containers such as pencil holders and vases.

Adrian Hirsch has been with SNN since its launch, starting as an intern from Grand Valley State University where he received a degree in broadcasting and business. After the internship, Adrian was brought on as staff to continue reporting, editing and publishing stories for SNN and Kent ISD. Adrian has been active with community radio station WYCE for years, served as Non-Profit Coordinator for GRTV, and currently works as the Web Producer for SNN.

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