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Back Giving Birth to a Bear:
BHS Students Participate in the ESL Animal Scramble

The Brighton Education Fund is very proud to have played a role in Brighton High School's creation of a beautiful polar bear for the ESL Animal Scramble.

The ESL Animal Scramble is a high-profile charitable event with community-wide impact, in the remarkable tradition of Horses on Parade. Local companies, organizations, and individuals sponsored life-sized fiberglass animals -- there were 16 from which to choose. Each sponsor then partnered with a local artist to paint and embellish the animal for display. In our case, Midtown Rochester Properties (the owners of Midtown Plaza) invited the students and teachers at BHS to craft a polar bear.

In May 2003, the ESL Animal Scramble then took to the streets in and around Rochester. "Hawaiian Bear", created at BHS, is on display in Midtown Plaza. In September, all the animals will be rounded up for a live auction, the proceeds of which will go directly to local charities: 50% split evenly among six "founding" charities and 50% to a charity chosen by the highest bidder.

Midtown's polar bear was adopted by the Phoenix Art Club at BHS. Now in its fifth year, the club regularly attracts 15 to 20 students to informal after-school sessions that engage students in three ways:

  • Community service, working on art projects with the after-school care program at Wilson Commencement Park
  • Designing and painting murals
  • Planning trips (which are open to the BHS community)

Phoenix Art Club members brainstormed ideas, then many rendered colored-pencil designs. The final design concept came from sketches provided by Amanda Klimek and Adam Goodman, and represents a combination of their ideas. Through an "advertisement" on the Morning Show, the club broadened participation, attracting10 to 15 students who are not usually involved in art activities.

The bear arrived at BHS in a moving van, and was ushered right in the front door of the school. He was moved carefully to his home in the Jewelry Studio, where his keepers pampered him throughout his stay. Student artists visited him during free periods and after school, working first to sketch the agreed-upon design on him in pencil, then finally to paint him. They used an acrylic-based paint specified by the manufacturer of the fiberglass animals. They gave the Hawaiian lei around his neck added dimension, using a special modeling compound provided by the manufacturer.

This friendly bear developed a real personality along the way, and he definitely had an urge to roam. He was transferred to Midtown Plaza where the public could watch students apply the finishing touches, then he was moved to BOCES for an acrylic auto body overcoat that would render him both waterproof and graffiti-proof. He joined all the other animals for a gala reception, and finally went on display in the main level of Midtown Plaza.

All the members of the BHS Art Department -- Ann Crerand, Debra Burger, and Jed Kunz -- were involved in coaching the student artists and keeping the project on schedule. They helped engender a real sense of accomplishment and camaraderie along the way, and we can be as proud of them and their students as we are of the finished product!

The Brighton Education Fund grant paid only for the necessary supplies and the bear's auto body overcoat; Midtown Rochester Properties, the bear's sponsor, paid for all his moving expenses. We are very proud to have been involved in this project, and very grateful to the students and the creative professionals on the BHS staff for their willingness to undertake it.

story by Jim Kane

June 28, 2003

Brighton Education Fund
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