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Students’ handiwork results in crafty creations

Options student Jesse Nichols decided to dress up Gordon Elementary for his public service project. These colorful characters will greet the students come the first day of school, Sept. 3. - Tara Lemm/Staff Photos
Options student Jesse Nichols decided to dress up Gordon Elementary for his public service project. These colorful characters will greet the students come the first day of school, Sept. 3.
— image credit: Tara Lemm/Staff Photos

Gordon Elementary

welcomes 24 new students

— kind of.

KINGSTON — Some are waving. Others are running, striking a jumping-jack pose or kneeling.

They’re all dressed brightly in a rainbow of colors. Some wearing letters, bubbles, polka dots, hearts or bugs.

No matter how they’re described one thing is certain: They’re down-right cute and certainly make Gordon Elementary look like a fun and welcoming place to attend school.

But then again that’s the whole point.

They are 24 wood-carved and brilliantly painted child-sized silhouettes, which hang on the fence lining the driveway up to Gordon Elementary.

“On the first day of school they’ll be up and each one will be holding a balloon, so it will be really cheerful when the students come to school,” said Gordon’s Principal Claudia Alves.

The carvings are a brand new addition to Gordon, compliments of 13-year-old Jesse Nichols — a former Gordon student — and his father Dan Nichols. Jesse, a rising eighth-grader at Kingston Middle School, was enrolled in the Options Program as a seventh-grader and needed to complete a community action project. Alves had been waiting six years for someone to finesse the wood students, but no one would volunteer.

With a little gentle coaxing from Mr. Nichols, Jesse heeded the call and carved the students for Alves and his action project.

Jesse and his father spent 40 hours over the course of two months shaping the wooden students to perfection. Joe Michak, a fellow Options parent, came to the rescue in the end, as the project proved to be far more work than expected.

They made overhead transparencies of the silhouettes and traced them on cardboard and cut them out and outlined them on painted plywood. Then came the power tools, a jigsaw and electric sander, and the shapes began coming to life.

“I did a little bit of it, but my dad didn’t want me working with the power tools all the time,” Jesse explained. “The jigsaw was cool because it’s really easy to use, but it was hard going around bends because sometimes you’d get out of control and miss the lines. But mostly it was pretty cool.”

Through the course of his community action project Jesse learned about organization, working under pressure and how to complete a job. He’s relieved the project is over, but pleased with himself.

“They turned out really nice, and I’m really proud of what I did,” he said, although he’s yet to see them in their painted glory. However, he’ll be making a special trip by Gordon to check out his handy work.

Each class at Gordon painted the carvings and the Kingston High School cheerleaders hung them for a community service project.

Alves plans to keep the silhouettes alive and attention-grabbing by perhaps decorating them for each season or holiday, maybe some wreaths come December. But for the moment, she’s overjoyed to have 24 new students.

“It was amazing to me that one of our own kids stepped forward,” she said.

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