11:35am – the all too familiar bell goes off, signaling the end of yet another class where students are forced to read, write, solve math equations, run, or do whatever it is they do in their classes. Students rush out of their classrooms and pile into areas such as the cafeteria and the library.
However, there is one place that not many students know about. This location is exclusive to a certain group of people who can meet the standards and expectations of Barbara Harvey’s art classes. This location is H101, otherwise known as the “art suite.”
Upon entering the art suite, the smell of Ms. Harvey’s famous Yankee Candles blends with the smell of Sharpies. The chatter of collaboration and inside jokes is immediately recognizable. And yet, many people are lying down on a couch or a pillow, sleeping their lunch block away. The art suite holds the perfect balance of liveliness and serenity.
The way each member of this 101 people family are so closely intertwined, it is easy to see why one may consider the art suite the home of such a strong community.
Collaboration between peers is something Ms. Harvey strongly encourages. Going onto her 12th year at SAS, she has created an environment that encourages a balance of enjoyment and diligence and is safe for her students to both succeed and fail.
Ms. Harvey does this through the philosophy that great art work will come as a result of forming a community.
“When I came to SAS 12 years ago, I was hired by the superintendent at the time, Bob Gross, and one of the things I said was, ‘If I am going to come in and build an art program, we need to build a community first. Great art work will come as a result of that,’” Ms. Harvey said.
Students certainly agree that great art work has stemmed from this feeling of community, especially senior Allegra Bundy.
“People in the community are always there to help you out if you need anything and give you advice on your pieces. It’s definitely made me a better artist to have a lot of people commenting on my work and offering help” Allegra said.
There are three aspects of the art suite and community that make it such an enjoyable environment for these students and that help foster their relationships: the safety within the community, the fluidity of the art suite, and the family.
With this safe environment that Ms. Harvey strongly protects, many of the students in this community feel as if taking risks is what brings them all together.
“When we create art, we are constantly taking risks and challenging ourselves to be completely vulnerable to creativity,” sophomore Hana Matsudaira said. “So I feel like we automatically become close because we are all trying to do the same project, just in our own perspective.”
The ability for students to come in and out of the art room during breaks, free blocks, and before and after school adds to the fluidity that the art room is known to have.
For senior Nadia Koolina, it has certainly helped.“I never feel lost at SAS, because I know that I have my own little home with a different sort of family to recharge my energy in. It’s almost like school is my workplace, but the art suite is my home. When I’m in the art suite, all of my walls come down, and I don’t think I’d want it any other way.”
When some outsiders think of the art suite, they think of it as a sort of gathering spot for some secret, exclusive, art cult. That, however, is far from reality. They are just brought together by a common purpose, and that is to keep doing what they love to do – art.