Sunday, August 17, 2014

Senior Tribute 2014 - Saying Farewell Part I

In my 34 years here at Whitney High teaching the arts, this was by far one of my favorites with the kids.
And I've got wonderful, funny and heartfelt memories to last me a lifetime with this group of seniors.

Ok you guys, here we go.
Brutal honesty is my motto, right!

Let me start with you Jarick Simbol.
No, let me start with your daddy, Patrick.
Your dad was one of my top art students back in the day when I was a brand new teacher and showed me great kindness and patience as I struggled to figure out this teaching thing I'd gotten myself into  :)
So when I found out he was your father, I was thrilled to be working with you.
I was trying to remember when you first took one of my art classes, was it in the 7th or 8th grade? 
I think 7th.
You showed promise and interest and you came back to me for a second year in what, the 10th grade?
And then your sweet, beloved father passed away unexpectedly and you and your family were devastated.
So was the entire student body and staff.
We all knew, respected and loved your father.
It was a horrible time.
But you hung in there Jarick, you stayed strong for your mother and sister.
And you thrived this senior year, not only for me in your 3rd year of art but in your other classes as well.
You have no idea how proud I am of you, and how confident I am in your abilities as you continue on your path in film making.  
I've eavesdropped a couple of times on your conversations with your fellow students while you plotted out your film assignments in my class during lunch.
You have a brilliant mind and you will do great things Jarick.
And you know your daddy speaks to me sometimes, I've felt him near so many times this year, wanting me to tell you how proud he is of you.
And I have, haven't I?  :)
I love you Jarick, and I feel him right now as I write you this letter.
He sees the strong and confident young man you have become.
I will miss your sweet smile, and your kindness and patience with me.
You are your father's son.

So seniors, let's first take a look at the incredible artwork you produced for me;
the culmination of all the years you spent trying to please me by staying in right brain and not talking to your neighbors during class, working your butts off the night before an assignment was due, letting me torture you with all my right brain music, those same songs over and over.
You loved it, right??  Ha Ha 
Megan Yeu and Anne Allan are enjoying all of their and your pieces that Alyssa Olea put up for you on Senior Awards Banquet Night.
Did you thank Alyssa for doing such a wonderful job with the display?
Of course you did, she told me  :)
It was such a strong body of work.
You all should be so proud of yourselves, and it was a pleasure showing off your art to your parents and relatives.
Thank you Alyssa for making this happen and making it flow so well.
You are a treasure!
For those of you who don't know, Alyssa has been my paid assistant for these past two years.
Before that she was one of my top Ceramic students for two years in her junior and senior years here at Whitney.
She is a valuable asset to our Fine Arts Dept. loading and unloading kilns, mixing glazes, taking pix for this blog, and most importantly, managing my grade books.
I am a lucky woman to have you at my side Alyssa.
I can't thank you enough.

The incredible memories started for me this year with Josh Berger building the succulent garden.
I hated this ugly piece of dirt that nothing would grow in next to my classroom, so I asked Josh if he was game for an adventure in gardening.
The garden became his the first moment he put the shovel in the dirt to turn over the packed rock-hard earth.
At one point he even had to use a pick ax it was so hard going.

The results have been stupendous with him planting and nurturing this plot of land with succulents and bulbs.
He kept it going all year long and I can't wait to get back to school in Sept. to see how it's grown.
Josh has received so many kudos from students and staff on his garden, and his work has inspired another student to start a garden next school year outside the science classrooms.
You've left your mark Josh, and positively impacted others in the process.
Doesn't get any better then that!

Another favorite memory for me this year was watching the kindness and encouragement that my students show towards each other.
Here we see favorites James Cho and Aman Patel as they are learning to throw on the potter's wheel and giving one another a helping hand.
And then kudos on not collapsing another pot. 

And just look at these 3 cuties below,  Tim Creasy and Alex Arias helping out Cole Mesa with the tricky binding tape on his portfolio.
Teamwork is a beautiful thing here at Whitney.
I find that these kids have more heart and goodness then at any other school I've ever been at.

And watching you kids, Andrew Rim and Young Song (below), try so hard for me learning a new right brain skill like spinning yarn.  
You make my heart so happy.
All right brain skills are difficult to learn but once learned you have them for life like riding a bicycle.
Then they become pleasurable and you want to do them all the time because they relax you.

Below, Tristan Eddy loved spinning yarn so much that she borrowed one of my spinning wheels and took it home so she could make lots and lots of yarn!
Damn that makes me smile!!!!
You didn't know I still had this pix of you, did you woman??

For me, teaching a young one art and watching them take off with it is a powerful memory.
And that's what happened this year with Alex Arias who found thru the art class that he has great artist potential.
And his peers looking at him with newfound respect is powerful too!.
It will be interesting to see if you chose to do anything with it Alex, let me know  :)
Your future is so bright!

And this impacted me as well, watching Vivian Dinh Dang put on safety goggles to keep the pastel dust out of her eyes so that she could participate in an activity that she was allergic too.
These kids are fearless!

And Cathy Luo, you cracked me up when I would see you standing on a chair to work on your pieces.
I always tell my drawing/painting students that you need to stand above or away from your work so that you can see your proportions.
 Who knew Cathy would take me so seriously??  LOL
This second year drawing class (6 students) was in with another 28 beginners as well as 2 advance kids, so there was never enough room in my class to spread out.  
So above you see Cathy and Jasmine Zhao working outside my door, and below Heather Warner is with them in the textbook storage room that connects to my classroom.
All of them are so deep in right brain they have no idea I'm taking their pictures. 
Is this going on at other schools?
This incredible focus, this disciplined work ethic, this striving to be their very best, I wonder.
I think Whitney High is a very special place and brings out the best in our students.
And like I've said many times on this blog, I'm a very lucky woman to teach here.

And Megan Yeu, I could write a whole page just to you.
You have been a trip, one of my most unique students ever!!!
So playful, so much fun, so very talented in the arts.
How many years did we spend together with how many classes??
Three years right?
Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced 2-D Art, Ceramics I and Beginning 3-D Art.
Plus all your outside Art classes.
Thank you for putting up with me, all my nagging, and boy oh boy did I nag you!
And all my scary faces, you know what I'm talking about.  LOL
You were always such a good sport especially when I'd bug you about all the food you'd eat during class.
I only wish I had your metabolism  :)
In her years with me Megan had to put up 3 Open House walls.  
All of them works of art!

You are the sweetest person Megan with such a big heart, and you bring joy and fun and fearlessness everywhere you go.
Your art talent will take you far.
It was a challenge and a pleasure being your teacher and it's going to be so interesting to see what you do with your life.
And remember, it's all about discipline and time management :)
Love you girl!

And I will never forget the day you crawled into the clay bucket.
What a great memory!
You crack me up and go where no one else has gone before.

But you weren't the only one with a fascination with that clay bucket.
I don't know who loved digging in there more, Darren Fang or Derrick Lin  LOL
And Jocelyn Kim, you had it made, those boys did the digging for you  cuz I don't think you could even reach the bottom  :)
And Norris Khoo, like Jocelyn, that clay loved you both.
You both created magic with the clay and glazes.
What a pleasure it was for me to watch you build your incredible designs and then to grade them.
I hope you both continue to work in ceramics.

Darren Fang, loved your gumption, your positive attitude, you never giving up with that damn clay.
This was my first year to work with you and you made me smile everyday.
So respectful, so sweet, such a good person.
I completely enjoyed being your teacher.

And Derrick Lin, I want to end Part I with you,
because you are such a special young man.
Not only to me, but to your friends, your school and your family.
It was an absolute pleasure working with you for the past two years in 3-D Art and Ceramics.
You showed me so much kindness, respect and gratitude.
I have never known another student like you.
Responsible, attentive, self-motivated, focused, it's like I'm writing your recommendation all over again.  :)
You are the whole package; smart, stylish and a go getter with goodness in your heart.
And so willing to learn and use those"Critical Thinking Skills"
All of this will take you far in this very competitive world.
I already know you will make me proud.
I will miss you so much, your daily greetings and partings, your positive attitude and energy, especially when that clay or yarn wouldn't quite respond to your coaxing.  LOL
You could always put a smile on my face.
Thank you Derrick for making 2013-2014 so memorable.
I send you off with so much love.

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