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Clark State and Ridgewood Elementary Students Collaborate to Bring Poetry to Life

Clark State and Ridgewood Elementary Students Collaborate to Bring Poetry to Life

November 30, 2016

Clark State Community College graphic design students collaborated with the 5th grade students of Ridgewood School to bring poetry to life with a new program called Take Pause.

“This is a collaborative program intending to engage the community in art and poetry,” said Beth Dixon, director of development and alumni relations, at Ridgewood School in Springfield. “Together, we imagined artistic illustrations spread about the community, engaging onlookers to take a minute and reflect on poetry written by children.” 

Dixon said one goal was to have the young and older share in the artistic process of creating something together. “Another, to have 5th graders experience a higher education facility and learn about illustration and graphic design as an area of study and vocation,” she said.

Dixon said what they didn’t anticipate was the comradery that occurred as a result of the project. “Pairing students with students, sharing ideas and Ridgewood students ‘poetry legs' so they could watch their words take shape was a very exciting educational opportunity for Ridgewood 5th graders!”

Ridgewood students spent a month exploring poetry through an in-depth writing unit. They each selected two poems to propose to their paired Clark State student, who then chose one to illustrate. The resulting posters were displayed at Ridgewood's Multi-Cultural Night on November 3, and more than 200 posters will be displayed around the community in the coming months.

“Beth approached me about having our Clark State graphic design students work on digital illustrations based on the poems of 5th graders from Ridgewood,” said Scott Dawson, assistant professor and program coordinator of graphic design and new media. “Our Digital Illustration II instructor Laura Huser agreed to have this collaboration serve as one of the major projects for the course because it gives our students real world experience.” 

Dawson said Clark State digital media programs, which includes graphic design and new media, collaborate with several local community organizations and local businesses to give students experiential learning opportunities. “Currently, our Logo, Symbol and Corporate ID class is working on a logo for the National Trail Parks and Recreation District,” he said.

Clark State graphic design students have also collaborated with the following local organizations on various projects: Springfield Symphony Orchestra, Springfield Arts Council, Jade Precision, True Focus, Project Woman, Clark County Substance Abuse Prevention, Treatment & Support Coalition and Holmes Marketing Services.

“It gives our graphic design students the opportunity to work with actual clients,” said Dawson. “The clients in the Take Pause project were young, but they were still our clients.”

The Ridgewood students visited the class to talk about their poems and what kind of imagery they wanted to represent their poems. “Our students then worked on comps that visually captured the poems of the 5th graders,” said Dawson. “The Ridgewood 5th graders returned to the class to review the comps and give the Clark State graphic design students final comments to apply to the development of the final digital illustrations.”

Both Clark State and Ridgewood School say they would like to continue this collaborative partnership in the future. “We hope to continue the project,” said Dixon. “And have our now veteran 5th graders act as leaders/assistant teachers to our upcoming 5th grade poets.”

Media Contact

Laurie Means Executive Director, Marketing