- Sponsorship -

Students present artistic twist on being nice

Art show coincides with week devoted to kindness

Lowell — Senior Kiera Troost’s passion is art, and she expresses herself through her work. 

“Art is my everything … It’s my lifeblood,” she said while presenting her oil painting, “A Refuge from Isolation”, during the recent Be Nice Art Contest in the Lowell High School Media Center.

Kiera painted her friends Gwen Hoke, Tru Marsh and Morgan Hale on canvas, capturing their smiles and closeness. They are Kiera’s go-to people, the ones she reconnects with after she reemerges from her somewhat isolating process of creating art.

“When given the prompt of kindness, community and compassion, the only representation that came to mind was the three people who become a beacon of light through it all,” she said in her artist’s statement. 

The contest was student-led and organized, with all students invited to contribute a piece as part of Be Nice Week. Students in art teacher Sarah Ellis’ painting and drawing class, however, completed entries as a class project.

‘We know through statistics that seeing and appreciating art actually helps with mental health.’

— teacher Sarah Ellis

The idea came together after Ellis and Student Leadership teacher Chaye Klomparens brainstormed how to create an art show that connects with the school’s annual Be Nice Week. They received a grant from the Lowell Education Foundation for materials. 

“We know through statistics that seeing and appreciating art actually helps with mental health,” Ellis said. “We wanted to bring that message of art appreciation along with destressing our whole population by allowing classrooms to come down and view the art.”

Student Logan Ping talks about his piece

Niceness on Display

Students’ entries touched on themes of anti-bullying, social justice, caring for nature, self acceptance, familial ties, positive affirmations and mental health into sketches, painting and collages. Students and staff voted on their favorites, with the top five vote-getters being Lannie Wester, Quinn Massey, Emma Boston, Dagmar Carr and Colin Baas.

The Student Leadership class organized Be Nice Week as a way to bring joy to students in the middle of the long winter months, said senior Leah Davidson.

Along with the art contest, students also shared personal affirmations and “things that should be said more often,” (like compliments) on sticky notes in the lunchroom. They handed out ice cream and suckers and greeted students at the door.

“It’s lifting them up and making them feel more positive,” Davidson said of the week’s efforts. “It’s also giving them a mental break, like, ‘Don’t take things so seriously. Don’t let things get to you so much’ … It’s like a fun spirit week.”

- Sponsorship -
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is managing editor and reporter, covering Kentwood, Lowell and Wyoming. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013, and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio


Related Articles

- Sponsorship -

Issues in Education

Making Headlines

- Sponsorship -


Maranda Where You Live WGVU