Glenwood Springs Elementary uses art project to unify and uplift students |

Glenwood Springs Elementary uses art project to unify and uplift students

Glenwood Springs Elementary School fifth-graders Avery Hebgerg and Abi Loya put up a decorative art wing on one of the walls in a hallway of the school.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Glenwood Springs Elementary School is the home to a community art-project cross over thanks to Music teacher Emma Leake. Since the school still has its students separated by cohort, Leake said she was looking to come up with an art project with the GSES artistry fellow, Delaney Meyers, that would unify everyone.

“We wanted it to be centered around some kind of idea where the kids were all coming together. Even though the kids were making their own individual feather, when it went into the wings it would have a cohesive concept,” Meyers said.

Leake came up with the idea after a trip to downtown Glenwood where the chamber has multiple sets of wings on display for it’s “Find Your Wings” campaign. The “Find Your Wings” campaign is a joint project of the Downtown Development Authority, City of Glenwood Springs and Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association, and the idea came from local business owner Chrissy Lee-Maness of Homsted. Angie Anderson, president and CEO of the Glenwood Chamber, writes in an email about seeing the project that originated downtown fly over to the elementary students too.

“The Wings of Glenwood Springs have brought light and happiness into downtown. It’s inspiring to see the Glenwood Springs Elementary School students connect to the community with their own version of the project in this fun and creative way,” Anderson writes.

One of the decorative "wings of GSES" at Glenwood Springs Elementary School.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

The significance of the wings is to remind the students they’re a part of something bigger, even if because of the past year with Covid it doesn’t feel that way right now.

“It’s that kind of idea that we all are a school still, even though we feel very separated right now from each other. You know we’re all here together, we’re all going through this whole Covid process together but we are different people and we bring something special to our classes and our school,” Leake said.

After sending copies of the individual feathers to teachers, collecting them and putting them onto butcher paper, Meyers and Leake set up four different sets of wings in different locations around the elementary school.

“They’re scattered throughout the school so it’s kind of like how they are downtown where you can walk around and find them. We placed them in different areas so kids could kind of search for them throughout the school,” Leake said.

There were prompts with the feathers asking students to describe their goals, what they’re grateful for, what they’re proud of, reflective questions of that nature that they could respond to by writing on the feather. Leake said some kids took the prompts very seriously while others had more fun with decorating and showing their silly side, which she said was the whole point of the project – for students to interpret it for themselves.

Glenwood Springs Elementary School fifth-grader Avery Hebgerg makes sure one of the decorative art wings is secured to the wall inside the school.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Both Meyers and Leake see potential for more school-wide projects in the future similar to this one. They said they felt it was important to cultivate a sense of togetherness that also celebrates the individuality of students now more than ever.

“The one I always talk about is the kid who colored the feather fully in green and wrote on it, ‘This is a leaf, this is not a feather.’ That was pretty funny. Just seeing how they all reacted differently to the same prompt or to the idea of making a small part of a bigger project was really sweet,” Meyers said.


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