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Through stained glass, Oysterponds students leave mark on school

04/19/2018 5:55 AM |

Walking the halls of Oysterponds Elementary School, guests are greeted by hundreds of pieces of glistening blue, white, brown and green stained glass. They were put together by students in grades K through 6, as well as staff and community members, to create four different pictures, said Oysterponds art teacher Laurie Sanders. 

The first, the work of kindergartners and first-graders, depicts an oyster. The second, created by second-graders, shows Long Beach Bar “Bug” Lighthouse. Next is a schooner, crafted by third- and fourth-graders, and finally, there’s an osprey rendered by fifth- and-sixth grade students, .

The windows, installed by Oysterponds parent Angel Medina, were unveiled last Tuesday.

“It really was a cool project,” Ms. Sanders said. “You have to teach them about their community, and you have to teach them about history. I said to them, ‘You have all of this around you. What really represents our school?’ And they came up with these ideas.”

Ms. Sanders said students made the panels before the winter break and were involved in all aspects of the project, including placing and grouting the sections of stained glass.

Port Jefferson artist Bonnie Bittner collaborated on the community-based project.

“She was like, ‘Are they going to know what an oyster is?’ And I go, “This is what these kids do out here. They clam, they go for oysters, they fish,’ ” Ms. Sanders said. “When she put [the panel] down the kids were like, ‘Look, that’s an oyster!’ ”

A closer look at the students’ work. (Credit: Nicole Smith)

The groups spent a half-day creating their panels — except the schooner, which required two half-day sessions to complete. During each session, parents, community members, school board  members Linda Goldsmith and Janice Caufield, and every staff and faculty member in the building visited and helped the students create their panels.

Ms. Sanders said the hallway was filled with students, including pre-schoolers, during the unveiling. The school board president, teachers and staff attended the unveiling as well.

“It’s great for the community for everyone to come together,” said Mr. Medina, who has one child at Oysterponds now and another who attended and graduated. “It just shows people what Oysterponds school can do and how involved everybody is and what great teachers there are that they take the time out to do that stuff.”

Mr. Medina had installed the panels for free during spring break, and Ms. Sanders covered them with cloth, which she pulled off Tuesday to oohs, ahhs and cheers from the students.

She added that Mr. Medina plans to return to install wooden dividers between the individual panels and that the district wants to install better ceiling lights nearby to showcase the panels more effectively.

“I said to them all that this is history,” Ms. Sanders said. “It’s going to be here forever. And you’re going to come in one day and say, ‘I made this.’ It was so successful for them in so many ways.”

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