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Sandy Journal

Love of art unifies Brookwood Elementary community

Jun 24, 2019 11:26AM ● By Julie Slama

Former teacher Debbie Stoker teaches families the art of bread making at Brookwood Elementary’s eighth annual art-a-palooza. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Watercolors, play dough, storytelling, bread making, graffiti letters, pottery and more forms of art come together to create Brookwood Elementary’s eighth annual art-a-palooza.

“The students love art and they are so proud and excited to walk through the school’s gallery walk and try new forms of art tonight,” parent volunteer event organizer Abby Pohlman said. “This event is more a sense of community where we all come together to support the arts and our school.”

While much of art-a-palooza is a “fine-tuned machine,” as Pohlman said, this year, families did have a chance to try something new: put tickets in for a teacher experience raffle. These ranged from learning about Japan through origami and writing Japanese to attending a Junie B. Jones party to learning Mancala and participating in a tournament.

“We realized this would be a fun way for students to learn something new or get to know their teachers more,” she said.

The profits from ticket sales as well as about 100 items from the silent auction and from a bake sale all are earmarked to support Brookwood programs, such as debate, math Olympiad and others, Pohlman said.

About $11,000 was made at the event last year.

Second-grade teacher Candace Rich said the event also funds STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — supplies, science fair, spelling bee “and many events students love.”

“So much of what we do comes from funding from art-a-palooza; everyone responds to it so well,” Rich said. “And it’s a fun night, our biggest night of the year, with an incredible number of families turning out — and PTA does all of it. Our students showcase their work in the gallery walk and have a chance to be super creative in art stations tonight.”

Art-a-palooza began in 2011 by Channa Vyfvinkel after Canyons School District asked schools to focus on the arts during the month of January. As the event continued, it was moved to later in the school year so outside art activities could be included.

“This event has grown every year and every teacher comes to help and we have amazing parents who offer their talents and time to introduce new projects to students,” Vyfinkel said in 2014.

For Chris Garff, who came with first-grader Isabel, it was remarkable.

“This is great; I’m impressed,” Garff said about the deep sea dive “glowing” experience. “My daughter made an amazing jellyfish.”

As students checked out the gallery walk or the balloon animals, several families stopped in to listen to a story.

Professional storyteller Connie Crayk, who has told stories at the famed Timpanogos Storytelling Festival, taught students about folktales from Russia, Germany, England and other places.

“So much literature comes from folktales,” she said. “And every folktale has a good moral, one which we can learn from.”

Hailey Watanabe attended art-a-palooza for the third time. 

“I like to come because there are so many things to look at and do,” she said, adding that second-grader Graeme Anderson already tried play dough and sword balloon flighting. “It’s a chance for everyone to come together and to support the school.”

Two years after retirement, Debbie Stoker still is going strong, supporting the school by teaching the popular bread-making session.

“I’ve learned how to bake 30 loaves in three hours, and people who come get into learning the art of bread making,” said the former fifth- and sixth-grade teacher. “My hobby has actually become beneficial.”

Meaning she has helped pay for cancer treatments for family members, baking and selling more than 1,300 loaves. Now, once again, she sold her loaves to benefit students at her former school.

As the Morales family headed home with their kindergartner and first-grader, they talked about some favorite things at art-a-palooza.

“I liked seeing the art they made and they had fun dancing and doing karaoke,” parent Javier Morales said. 

His wife, Jennifer, said she appreciated the glow-in-dark underwater room that featured a fish and jellyfish her kids created.

“It’s different and fun, something I’ve never seen at school before,” she said. “This is a fun way to spend the night together.”