Press release from Fair Haven School District
The message board located near the entrance to Viola L. Sickles School in Fair Haven proclaimed, “International Dot Day – Make Your Mark.” Yet even after being forewarned, visitors to the school would still be pleasantly surprised by the level of excitement — as well as the sheer number of dots — creatively displayed throughout the building on September 15.
In the hallway outside Kerry Kennedy and Pamela Greenhall’s classroom, young Kindergarteners excitedly sponge-painted dots on a poster taped to the wall. Courtney Robinson’s first-grade class sat on a dot-embellished carpet while discussing the collaborative dot art project they would soon be displaying for the entire school to see. Nan Hagen’s second graders were thinking hard about how to represent themselves in individual name-glyphs, carefully marking colorful dots to represent their personal characteristics. The third graders had filled their hallway with a dazzling display of dot-centered artwork, displaying their talent and ability to “think outside the box.”
It was all part of International Dot Day, an initiative held each year on September 15, and inspired by the best-selling children’s book The Dot, written and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds.
In The Dot, a young student who says she can’t draw is encouraged by her caring art teacher to “just make a mark and see where it takes you.” The doubting student jabs the point of a marker into her blank piece of paper, and then signs her artwork at the teacher’s suggestion. When the student sees her black dot creation framed and hanging above her art teacher’s desk the following week, she begins a courageous and inspirational artistic journey.
“Imagine the power and potential of a million people all around the world collaborating, creating, and celebrating all that creativity inspires and invites,” Reynolds states on the International Dot Day web site. “I hope you will join the growing global community of creative champions using their talents, gifts, and energy to move the world to a better place.”
Sickles Art Teacher Rose Ann LaBrocca was instrumental in planning International Dot Day activities for her students in Kindergarten through third grade.
“This has been so much fun for all of us, and it has opened our eyes to how much we can accomplish,” said LaBrocca. The students in her art room, attired in dotted items of clothing and festooned with stick-on dots, nodded in agreement.
Sickles School Principal Cheryl Cuddihy, along with Knollwood School Principal Kevin Davis, District Superintendent Nelson Ribon, District Director of Curriculum and Instruction Ellen Spears, and District Supervisor of Instructional Programs and Support Marion Carolan attended the Building Learning Communities (BLC14) Conference in Boston this past summer. At BLC14, Peter H. Reynolds and his brother Paul Reynolds made a presentation on the importance of helping students to discover and capture their own stories.
The administrative team also took the opportunity to visit Fablevision Studies, owned by the Reynolds brothers. There they witnessed firsthand every step of the creative process involved in the publication of books or multimedia for a wide variety of audiences.
“The Conference and studio visit inspired us to provide a platform for spreading the message of creativity, courage, and collaboration,” said Cuddihy.” Our District’s initiative for the school year is ‘Make Your Mark and See Where It Takes You.’”
Students and staff at the fourth- through eighth-grade Knollwood School in Fair Haven also commemorated International Dot Day 2014, which included 1,853,749 participants in 82 countries.
Sixth-grade Knollwood students watched an animated version of “The Dot” and created “selfies” including a statement about how they planned to make their mark during the school year. Students in fourth and fifth grade made their mark during International Dot Day by creating various art projects with dots, which are now displayed in the hallways and classrooms of the school. Knollwood Art Teacher Kelly Fogas even set up a table for parents at Back to School Night later that evening, enabling them to share in the fun by creating their own dots.
Knollwood School Principal Kevin Davis reflected on International Dot Day, saying “We are looking forward to the students, staff, and Knollwood community making their mark throughout the school year.”