Resaca STEAM Students, Parents Make Walls Colorful

by Ronnie Zamora/LFCISD

Children enjoy writing or coloring on the walls, but rarely do parents allow them to.

This time, not only did parents allow their children to write on the walls, the parents joined them.

Sixth-grade students and their parents at Resaca Middle School’s inaugural STEAM Academy took part in the first RMS STEAM Excursion Sept. 22 by brightening the walls in the sixth-grade wing.

STEAM parents donated everything from paint brushes, paint, and painting supplies to transform the wing – a separate building connected to the main campus by a covered walkway – into a colorful place to make learning more enjoyable. About 40 parents joined the 65 children attending to paint at the school district’s only middle school “Leader in Me” campus.

Fine arts was incorporated into the advanced learning academy, or “a school within a school.”

STEAM is an extension of STEM – science, engineering, engineering of mathematics – and includes the arts, the letter A in STEAM. Saturday was the artsy day.

“The fact that it was our STEAM families who conceived the idea for the first Excursion,” said Elizabeth Swantner, Resaca principal. “The fact that the parents made it happen by providing all the materials, snacks, and gave up a Saturday to do it shows their dedication to making learning a family experience. I am humbled to serve along the teachers, staff, and families.”

STEAM was created with the purpose of providing an experiential learning experience for students as well as building a bridge between home and school for families. Sixth graders have the biggest transition of all grade levels from having one teacher in elementary school to several at the new campus with new classmates.

“The transition from elementary to middle school is one of challenges, and our parents must be an integral part of the transition team,” Swantner said.

Resaca is the first middle school in Los Fresnos CISD to pilot the STEAM Academy. Students are required to maintain an 85 or better average on their core coursework in sixth grade as well as earn at least 25 community service hours. They must also compete in at least one UIL academic event and join a campus club to get involved in campus life. This year’s first cohort includes 90 of Resaca’s 300 sixth-grade students.

On this day, the sixth graders enjoyed themselves like they were first graders again.

Most of the drawings were traced using a projector which spotlighted the image on the wall. The students and their parents then brought color using paint brushes of several sizes.

The unused paint was stored at the school for future projects.

The designs included the Gator mascot, positive affirmations and the STEAM mission statement. The bathrooms are now more colorful as well.

David Rodriguez, sixth grade teacher and Resaca’s leader of the STEAM Academy, has four other excursions planned. The upcoming events include a Thanksgiving feast for the needy and homeless, a beach clean-up, a scientific excursion to Resaca de las Palmas State Park, and a student-led debate.

“The students wanted to make the school look better. The halls needed some color to them. It’s a great way to keep them motivated. Kids wanted to be excited to be in the halls and to be in school.  It’s a great way to get them motivated.”

Rodriguez said that the STEAM parents “were all on board with it. They paid for everything.”

The paintings and drawings will be around for years to come, much like the outdoor mural at Los Fresnos Elementary which was done by currently now enrolled or recently graduated from Los Fresnos High School.

“A lot of them have little brothers and little sisters,” Rodriguez said.  “They can say ‘I painted that on the walls when I was here.’ It’s a great legacy for them to leave behind.”

To see an album of photos, visit the Flickr photo album.

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