Guided by teachers and an artist, Chazy Central Rural School students will be creating a mosaic that will be seen by tens of thousands of people every year. Judging from its predecessor, which adorns the wall of the Clinton County Government Center, it will be a work of art that we can all take pride in.
Bucky Seiden, an artist and retired teacher, will guide about 100 students from CCRS, in cooperation with Chazy art teacher Margaret Gruetzmacher and industrial-arts instructor Kyle Syck, when the project to create a mural for Plattsburgh International Airport begins this fall.
Seiden is one of the people who, in 2008, helped seventh-graders from schools all over Clinton County create the colorful mosiac that now brightens the exterior wall of the County Government Center in Plattsburgh. The airport mural will hang on a wall inside the airport. It will be constructed on movable panels because of the upcoming terminal expansion, but county officials should give it a permanent home at the airport once the construction is over.
The multi-shape ceramic tiles will illustrate the timeline of the site, from 1814 to the present, and include images of Champlain College, the U.S. Army and Navy, Plattsburgh Barracks, Plattsburgh Air Force Base, numerous types of military aircraft and local recreational offerings.
The students will learn as they create, researching information about the airport site. Part of their early research will involve watching a video on the history of Plattsburgh Air Force Base, created by Bruce Carlin for Media Central years ago. Chazy Central School Superintendent John Fairchild has been very supportive of the project, including offering to arrange student field trips to the Champlain Valley Transportation Museum in Plattsburgh.
The project, made possible through a $2,200 grant from the Adirondack Arts in Education Partnership, will be an experience the students will never forget. Seiden told us a story about the county mural that shows how deeply young people become involved and interested. When that mosaic was still being placed on the exterior of the Government Center, it was shrouded from public eyes by a large tarp. One of the seventh-graders who had participated arrived at the site, eager to find out if the milk wagon that he had created was among the many tiles that would be used. Seiden had remembered placing that image and tracked it down for the boy. He beamed with pride when he saw his contribution to the artwork.
This kind of hands-on project is what good teaching is all about. The information the students learn as they create this community gift will be as firmly implanted in their minds as the tiles are upon the wall.