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Museum of Fine Arts: Potter Road Elementary School Field Trip
Supported in part by the Framingham Cultural Council

Donna Maxwell and Ohad Klopman talking about the project. Photo by Joel Winett.
A core element of the LCC program is funding cultural opportunities for young people in school, out of school, and after school. Each year, nearly half of LCC funds supported projects benefitting youth, including financial assistance for field trips to cultural destinations. The Potter Road Elementary School's trip to the Museum of Fine Arts is an example of one such field trip that had a profound impact on the students that took part.

Looking to provide an enhanced cultural experience for her students, Donna Maxwell, an art teacher at Potter Road Elementary School in Framingham, applied for and received a grant from the Framingham Cultural Council to take the fifth grade class to visit the Art of the Americas wing at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. This trip provided a valuable opportunity for students to not only draw connections from their studies to the art world, but to be inspired and engage their own creativity.

The trip involved the 57 students of Potter Road's fifth grade, who had spent a part of the year studying Colonial America as part of the curriculum. Maxwell explained that the students were able to see portraits of the historical figures they'd been studying, from Paul Revere to John and Abigail Adams, as well as artifacts and historical items from the time period. According to Maxwell, the students were very engaged as they made the connections from what they had learned in class to what they were seeing at the museum. As a practical element, each student created his/her own portrait miniature, first sketching in pencil, then filling in with watercolors, understanding what it was like to work on such a small scale and gaining an appreciation for the process and end product.

The itinerary of the day gave the students a chance to explore and seek out their own inspiration among the works. Carrying sketchbooks wrapped in marble paper made in art class, students were asked to soak in the modern art floor of the wing, surveying and observing all of the pieces. Each student was asked to sketch a piece he/she found inspiring. The sketches became muses for students, as they wrote poems based off of the pieces. Below is Ohad Klopman's poem, inspired by John Chamberlain's Red Ryder:

The Red Ryder

Standing straight and still
Rearranged pieces
Salvaged
From the scrap yard.

Watching as people pass.
Wanting to be
With them
On the road again.

Survivor
Of the crashes,
The hits,
The discarding.

Only one can renew
One by the name of
John
John Chamberlain

Picked the pieces up
Gave a second chance.
To make a
Difference.

Welded them together.
Painted each piece.
Made it into a
Piece of art.

Now everyone
Can see
A story of
A discarded car.

And feel sorry.

The comprehensive experience provided to the children left a lasting impression. Maxwell explained that, "It is so rewarding as an educator to bring these lessons full circle and see the students immerse themselves in the experience. For some of the students, it's their only opportunity to go to a museum like this. We're grateful that there is funding available to make this learning experience happen, as it really does make a difference."

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