Art for the Sky

Local kids raise money for schools with colorful display

A blustery west wind couldn’t blow away the enthusiasm of nearly 1,000 elementary school students on Thursday as they assembled on the field at Westside School for Hood River’s first-ever Art for the Sky project.

The project involved the entire student bodies at both Westside and May Street Elementary School creating a human art form — in this case, a “picture” of Mt. Hood.

The project, led by Mosier artist Daniel Dancer, required a massive effort in coordination from students, faculty and many community volunteers.

“It just goes to show that when we all cooperate, look what we can create,” said Ellen Trichter who, along with friends Suzanne Haynes and Sheila Shearer spearheaded bringing the project to the Hood River schools. Dancer has done his Art for the Sky project at other schools in the Northwest, but this was the first time for Hood River.

Shortly after noon, Westside students began filing out onto the northeast field at the school and were soon joined by May Street students who were bused to Westside. The students all were wearing either red, purple, black or white t-shirts, and made their way to an outline that Dancer had made on the field with each color. Dancer had created the design for the mountain with the help of Westside student artists in March.

When all the students were in their appropriate, color-coordinated spots, Dancer was raised high above them in a cherry picker provided by PP&L, which was parked just on the other side of the school fence on Belmont Drive.

When someone on the ground blew a horn, the kids bent over so their bright-colored backs were showing. Dancer took some photos before being lowered to the ground and heading to the airport for the grand finale of the day.

While they waited, students did jumping jacks and ran in place to keep warm. Despite darkening clouds and an ever-colder wind, the din of kids laughing and goofing around never faltered. And despite some doubts beforehand by teachers that the kids would get restless and unruly, the students stayed in place and were well-behaved throughout the nearly two-hour project.

Finally, the sound of a helicopter was heard, and then it appeared in the sky swooping over the school. The Hillsboro Helicopters chopper had Dancer on board, where he would take the final pictures of the students’ “picture” — truly, art for the sky.

The students let out a collective cheer and pointed to the chopper as it circled overhead. The horn was blown once again, and over the kids bent. The helicopter made several circles, hovering low on one of them. Then, with a few toots of the horn, the kids wearing red t-shirts — the “lava” — ran through the top of the “mountain” and spread out across the field, signifying the mountain erupting. After that, more of the mountain’s innards ran through the top, then all the kids began running across the field as the art form dispersed into a scattering of kids running around the school playground.

“The human eruption was one of the most beautiful and amazing things I’ve ever seen from the sky,” Dancer said later. Trichter thought the project showed how “interdependent we are on each other” — which is one of the main lessons Dancer tries to impart with his Art for the Sky projects.

The students’ responses to the project were enthusiastic. Westside first-grader Morgan Cooke, who got to erupt with the lava group, thought “going through the top” was the most fun. Second-grader Natalia Ames was less specific. When asked what her favorite part was, she pulled on her purple t-shirt for a moment.

“Pretty much everything about it,” she said, then ran off across the playground.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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