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Sandy Journal

Brookwood Elementary’s Art-a-Palooza serves as fundraising event for STEAM education

Jun 04, 2024 02:45PM ● By Julie Slama

Students create art masterpieces while gymnasts perform in the background at Brookwood Elementary’s Art-a-Palooza. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

On a large table in Brookwood Elementary’s multipurpose room sat baskets of donated items from businesses ranging from Brighton Ski Resort to Clark Planetarium, from Hires Big H to Rich’s Bagels, from The Smartest Artist Studio to Title Boxing. 

Created in themed gift baskets, these items helped raise funds for the school, which will support STEAM learning in the upcoming year, said Megan Olson, Brookwood Elementary School Community Council chairwoman.

“We’re wanting to support our students in a variety of STEAM activities from programs like Math Olympiad to purchasing art supplies,” she said. “We’re wanting to enrich their education with extra curriculum.”

It was part of the school’s traditional Art-a-Palooza event, which also allowed families the opportunity to purchase teacher experiences for students, such as “Go camping with the first-grade teachers,” where students would get to sing campfire songs, listen to stories and enjoy s’mores together or they could “Journey to Japan” where fifth-grade teachers taught students to learn origami, try Japanese writing and speaking and learn about the culture of the country.

“Those are always the favorite things,” Olson said. “We always have a line when we open for the teacher experiences.”

Art-a-Palooza began more than a decade ago when Canyons School District asked schools to focus on arts for the month of January. A few years later, Brookwood shifted that time to better align with the school calendar and it became the popular art gallery walk combined with a fundraiser, chaired by former PTA volunteers Channa Vyfinkel and Abby Pohlman. 

This year, student art was on display from brightly painted gardens with 3D critters to gnomes and fairies peering out amongst polka-dotted toadstools. 

Since those first years, the event has evolved to include the teacher experiences, a store to purchase goodies and some hands-on art activities, such as clay, stencils and origami.

New this year was a staged area where students could perform for 10 minutes with a donation. Community groups also performed.

Kara Bankhead was there watching her fifth-grade daughter, Emma, perform with her dance group while her second-grader, Elle, was making a bracelet.

“It’s a lot of fun doing this and being creative,” said the youngster.

Parent Erica High was one of about 30 volunteers who helped with the event. Her two children, first-grader Annie and fifth-grader McKay, who attend Brookwood were excited to sign up for a teacher experience.

“The teacher experiences give students a new opportunity to see their teachers outside of class,” she said. “The kids love their teachers and like to do an activity with their teacher, but really, the kids are loving it. It’s just something fun and different and it’s something they look forward to all year. I went to Brookwood and there’s still the green wallpaper, still the same carpet in the kindergarten hall, but it’s the teachers who make this place great. Honestly, this community is generous and supportive of the kids. They help make this event fun and then, through their gifts and our fundraising, we’re able to do some amazing things for the students.”

Olson agrees.

“The best part of this is bringing everyone together,” she said. “The kids remember it, and everyone looks forward to it every year.” λ