By Brendan Villena
Juniors Vivian Vuong, Isabel Yangchen, and Christine Yuan, and seniors Sandy Chen, Vivian Lee, Andy Li, and Amanda Morales once visited Gabrielino High School’s ceramics class as fourth graders to work on their mission projects. Eight years later, the upperclassmen are now the ones in art teacher Terri Hopper’s classroom instructing students on how to build their mission tiles.
Throughout the course of this month, fourth graders from McKinley Elementary School had the opportunity to visit Gabrielino to construct tiles that each represented a mission in California.
The classes came on various Thursdays between March 9-30. This way, all students who were required to create the project will had an equal opportunity to work on their masterpiece.
“I remember being really intimidated by everything and everyone, but luckily my partner was really nice and made me comfortable in the unfamiliar environment,” Chen stated. “Now, it’s basically the same thing but the other way around in which I try to make my partner comfortable enough to work with me.”
Students are required to trace, model, and paint their assigned missions on a clay mexican tile. All 21 missions were assigned among the students, resulting in some missions being repeated.
Students receive credit based on how similar their tile looks to the mission they were assigned.
Some Gabrielino mentors thought that the experience of getting to work on the tiles never truly changed, even years later. According to Yuan, getting to mentor the fourth graders is “more enjoyable to teach [in having] an impact on a student’s life.”
“It was fun to come to a high school, pretending to be a high schooler,” said Yuan.
In addition, Li’s favorite part was “getting to play with the clay because it expresses the person.”
The tiles will all be finished the week before McKinley’s Open House, so that they can be put on display for parents and students to see. While the project is not simple, the experience allows students to create something that is well worth their effort.
“It’s a good experience for the 4th graders,” stated Hopper. “[The project] is fun every year.”