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Johnson art students focus on giving back

This year, the Johnson High School Art Club students have made a commitment to put their artistic talents to use by helping others. On September 28, many of these students participated in face painting at the Buddy Walk, benefitting the Down Syndrome Association of South Texas. More than 5,500 people attended the Buddy Walk, and students helped to paint a little happiness on many of them.

“It was a pleasure to watch [these students] bring smiles to faces! They were kind, gracious, and professional, " Lisa Drozdick, one of the volunteer coordinators. "I appreciate each of their incredible talents and am impressed with how each of them handled themselves in a hectic setting.”

One of the face painters, Senior Ashton Liffrig, had a particularly memorable experience. “It was really a life changing event for me," said Liffrig. "It was amazing to get to work with so many different faces, and to have the reminder that I have a lot to offer with my artwork. Not only can I make myself happy, but I can make others happy as well.”

After the students’ performance at the Buddy Walk, the Down Syndrome Association of South Texas requested the help of Johnson Art Club for another event. In March of 2014, the DSA will hold its annual gala which will serve as a fundraiser for their organization. They have asked Johnson students to assist children and adults with Down Syndrome in creating center-pieces for the banquet tables. These pieces will be auctioned off at the end of the gala, serving as a large part of their fundraising efforts.

Art club students will meet with these individuals multiple times over the next few months to create the center-pieces. Senior Christiane Catoe is particularly looking forward to these meetings. “I’m very excited that we’re getting to reach out into the community and share our talents in a way that will beautify the world and help these organizations that do so much for those in need," said Catoe.

Along with donating their time and talents to help the Down Syndrome Association, these students have also been asked to brighten the lives of a local Girl Scout troupe. The West Side Girl Scout Leadership Center is located in a building that was once an elementary school in the Edgewood School District. The building is older and, as Lisa Drozdick describes it, “very institutional-feeling.” Art Club sponsor, Analisa Shinn, will be meeting with Director Laura Bustos on November 25 to take a look at the center and get ideas for what Johnson students could do for these young girls. Shinn’s hope is to create one or two large-scale murals in the space this year, with plans to do other murals in the future.

While the Johnson Art Club students have some lofty goals, they will not be alone in their efforts. In an attempt to further promote the Johnson High School art department, Shinn will be pairing up with Martha Camacho, art teacher and sponsor of the National Junior Art Honor Society at Tejeda Middle School, for both the Down Syndrome Association center-pieces and the Girl Scout murals.

Shinn and Camacho feel that by getting middle school art students involved in these opportunities, they will be more likely to continue their artistic endeavors into their high school careers. Both educators are thrilled to be able to have their students get involved with helping others. “So many of our students are incredibly blessed – they have good health, loving families, and incredible school facilities," said Shinn. "I think it is important that they show their gratitude for what they have by giving back to those who don’t have as much.”

Posted on November 18, 2013