WARSAW — Three Warsaw Community High School students created customized pieces of art for Warsaw Schools’ elementary buildings through their Kosciusko Youth Leadership Academy project.
Madeline Bowell, Emma Marsh and Brittany Duncan are in the Class of 2021 at WCHS. Nominated and selected to participate in KYLA, the three students have learned about leadership and community service through classroom and hands-on training. Their chosen project was to design, create and donate a customized piece of art to each of the WCS elementary buildings.
Working on the project since December 2019, Bowell, Marsh and Duncan have spent over 70 hours crafting, collaborating and creating hand-painted unique stools.
“We decided to make this our project because we wanted to give back to the foundation of our education,” said Duncan. “We thought elementary schools are an essential part of schooling and we wanted to show the staff how much they are appreciated.”
Bowell attended Jefferosn Elementary. Duncan attended Washington and Claypool. Marsh attended Harrison, Madison and Eisenhower. While none attended Leesburg or Lincoln these schools were not left off the gift list; all eight schools will receive their unique school logo stool over the next few weeks.
This story began a few years ago in Mrs. Kallie Kirkendall’s advanced art class. Bowell, along with friends Elizabeth Stone and Lily Boston, made a lasting impression at Lakeview Middle School when they gave a customized stool decoupaged with old maps from the French Revolution to Mrs. Betsey Vastbinder, social studies teacher. Vastbinder has since moved classrooms, but that piece of furniture traveled with her.
“My drab stool with scratches and scuffs was transformed from an eyesore to a conversation piece,” said Vastbinder. “It was such a gift to me to have a part of my classroom brightened up by someone with better skills at art and decorating than what I have.”
The project was such a hit that teachers began to request their own. During the month of May 2017, the trio customized 15 stools, transformed a coffee table into a piano for retiring choir teacher Mrs. Judy Becker and renovated a podium for Mrs. April Boggs.
“We thought it would be a quick and easy project,” said Bowell. “We soon realized it was going to take a lot of time, effort, communication and planning to execute a project on this scale for all eight schools.”
“It was a lesson in time management and communication,” said Duncan. “We learned so much about how to ask for help. It took multiple trips to Lowe’s, but we are so grateful for their donation of paint, brushes and sealant. We also relied on the generosity of friends and family who donated stools or cash.”
“The project might look simple, but we challenged ourselves to plan, design and deliver something that is one-of-a-kind to each school,” said Marsh. “Just as each school is unique with its specific school colors and logo, so are these stools.”
The three students have already hand-delivered stools to Leesburg, Eisenhower and Jefferson. They hope that this simple act of community service will inspire others to show their appreciation, to use their time and talents, and to learn by doing for others.