Kelowna École K.L.O. Middle School students, in partnership with artist and FCCS student Shimshon Obadia, are trying to restore a wetland habitat on their school grounds.
The tranquil Fascieux Creek that runs beside the school was covered with concrete pads during construction of the school grounds. Five years ago, Michelle Hamilton, the Kelowna École K.L.O. Middle School class teacher, and her grade 8 class became aware that there were turtles laying their eggs in the long jump pit near the creek bed, and began investigating ways to bring the creek back to its natural state. The Grade 8 students were told to raise $100,000 by the School District if they wanted the creek restored. Five years later, they’re only $15,000 away from their goal.
”I was completely blown away by the dedication they had to their immediate natural environment and how aware they were of the connection between it and their own education,” says Obadia, a student in the Interdisciplinary Performance program at UBC’s Okanagan campus.
Over the past five years the students have been protecting the turtle eggs, and planting indigenous plants along the fence that runs along the creek.
Obadia has been working with the group for the last five months to use art as a means to attract attention to the work these students have been committed to. He is also providing a creative outlet for the environmental concerns directly impacting their education.
The aim of this project is to get a natural learning environment conducive to embodied, practice-based learning through building enough support for this project in the community.
The tireless efforts of the students are being showcased in an exhibition, Concrete in the Creek, at the Alternator Gallery for Contemporary Art. The installation features school desks atop a large watercolour painting created by the students using imagery of the creek as they envision it being one day soon.
Each desk has a chalkboard slate and chalk so audience members can contribute their ideas and opinions on the project. There is a live feed that projects the images from the slates onto one wall in the gallery. Tree branches are suspended on wires from the ceiling; on the remaining three walls of the gallery is a projection of the creek on Casorso Road close to the school where the habitat has not been disrupted from its natural state.
The exhibition runs Oct. 18-25. The opening reception is this Friday, Oct. 18th starting at 7 p.m.
Shimshon Obadia and Michelle Hamilton will run informal tours of the exhibition on Oct. 26th. They will also be accepting donations to help support the students’ cause to restore their lost educational resource.
The Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art is located in the Rotary Centre for the Arts, 421 Cawston Ave., downtown Kelowna.