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Children contribute their art skills — and sense of fun — to remodel project at Gordon Elementary
KINGSTON — Richard Gordon Elementary School has attractive features: Red-brick exterior, interesting architectural details, walking trails.
Some of the restrooms, um, not so much.
In the boys’ and girls’ restrooms near the playground, linoleum is cracking and peeling, baseboard moulding is falling away from the wall, heaters are broken, metal paper-roll holders are rusting.
Enter Gordon School parent and tile man Craig Gurney, who saw “ewwww” but envisioned an artistic masterpiece.
Gurney and a team of parents organized a project to remodel the bathrooms with art tiles made by students. The last week of February and first week of March, students put their artistic designs on 500-600 tiles that will be fired in the school’s kiln and used to retile the bathrooms from floor to ceiling.
Home Depot donated $7,500 for the tiles and for new heaters, mirrors, paper roll holders, sinks and toilets. The labor will be donated by Gurney’s Tile Work.
All told, the project’s value is about $15,000, Gurney said. The remodel work will be done June 16-26.
Carol Thorstad of the Poulsbo Home Depot said it’s been fun working with the students on a project that will someday be enjoyed by the young artists’ own children.
With colors like Buttercup Blue, Lemon Drop, Lily Pad, Peacock Eyes and Spiced Banana, each picture is a window into a child’s world: rainbows and sunshine, peace signs and smiling hearts, flowers and a yellow-haired girl in a grassy field under a summer sky. Some works are tributes to interests, like sports. Other works are abstracts.
Kim Berger is an art docent at school; her husband, Matt, wrote the grant proposal to Home Depot. He watched as his son, Avery, 5, drew a newspaper on a tile, no doubt inspired by his conversation with the Herald.
Kim Berger enjoys seeing what children come up with for their tiles. The young artists are free to come up with their own ideas and go with it. “Some are abstract kinds of things," she said. "We’re not trying to get them to do the same exact thing."
Principal Claudia Alves made a tile with a spiral design. Why not a landscape? “I’m not as good as the kids,” she said.
Alves said the newly-tiled restrooms will be more sanitary as well as attractive.
“With budget cuts, I don’t know when that project would have been attempted,” she said. “The school district doesn’t have a painter, so to get a painting job done, we have to do it ourselves. Home Depot gave us more money than we needed for the tile project and they told us we can use it for whatever we want, so we’re going to have a painting party before school begins (in September).”
Alves said volunteer efforts like the remodel project are becoming more important. Lacking a school art teacher, each classroom has a volunteer art docent. The school garden was installed by volunteers. More afterschool clubs cropped up this year because parents saw the need for afterschool activities.
“It’s been amazing to see how people step up when times get tough,” Alves said. “I want to make sure Craig gets lots of kudos for the restroom remodel. He’s so excited about it. He and then Home Depot, to come in like they did, they really stepped up.”
Gurney and his wife, Wendy, have four children at the school. They, too, have enjoyed seeing the project come to fruition since the idea came up in a conversation about two years ago. And it’s been gratifying to see so many people become involved in the project.
“I like to be involved and see things happen,” he said.